January 30, 2019

Content Policy Research on Social Media Platforms request for proposals


There is an ongoing, global conversation about how social media and technology companies decide and enforce what is and isn’t allowed on their platforms. To this end, Facebook has a set of Community Standards that are designed balance the need for a safe place while still providing room debate and discuss different points of view. Last year, we updated our Community Standards to include the internal guidelines we use to make decisions about content, as well as key metrics that demonstrate how we enforce these standards.

To further understanding of and improve our content policies, Facebook requests research proposals designed to examine online content and ways to reduce harmful content. This includes, but is not limited to, research that will help us develop better content policies, assess possible interventions, including experimental and observational studies, along with qualitative and analytic work to understand the mechanisms by which online rhetoric influences offline events.

In 2019, Facebook will grant awards of $50K – $100K USD per awardee to fund projects of up to 12 months in duration. This RFP challenge is open to applicants worldwide from academic and/or research institutions that are eligible for research funding. This includes individual researchers addressing a well-defined problem, or multiple university departments with a diverse set of skills to solve a more complex multi-disciplinary challenge. We encourage emerging scholars to apply.

Researchers can submit proposals for any domain related to the topics below. We describe some examples for each topic, but we will consider proposals related to topics that are not specified as examples.

Our initial areas of focus include:

  • Hate Speech and Harmful Speech. Recognizing hate speech and other forms of harmful speech often requires human review by people familiar with the specific cultural or linguistic context in which the speech is made. We’re focused on learning more in order to ensure Facebook remains an open and inclusive community. For example:
    • Understanding areas for improvement, advancement of technology, and/or processes that enable accurate detection of hate/harmful speech
    • How does online hate speech vary by region/targeted group/speaker/intent?
  • Preventing Offline Harm. One of Facebook’s top priorities is to help ensure that our platforms are not used to facilitate offline harm. For example, we work hard to remove threats and support for dangerous organizations. However, we want to research additional ways to effectively address and mitigate offline harm. For example:
    • What online interventions (e.g. fact-checking, providing supplemental information, or restricting the visibility of the content to a limited audience) are effective?
    • What mechanisms are effective (or ineffective) to prevent online rhetoric that may provoke offline activity?

Payment will be made to the proposer’s host institution as an unrestricted gift. With this, overhead is typically limited to 5-8%.

To apply

We ask applicants to submit a 2-3 page proposal. Proposals should include:

  • A research question and a clear statement of work
  • A summary of the project (1-2 pages) explaining the area of focus, a description of techniques, relevant prior work and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes (recall that the timeline should be no more than 12 months)
  • A draft budget description (<1 page) including an approximate cost of the award and explanation of how funds would be spent. Proposals are highly encouraged to focus funding on project personnel, especially PhD students. Proposals from small collaborative teams are also encouraged.
  • Name(s) of the researcher(s) involved in the proposed work with their CV/resume or links to Google Scholar pages
  • Indication of any previous or current connections/collaborations with Facebook (in which case please provide context and name the Facebook contacts). Successful awardees will be listed on the Facebook Research website and will be encouraged to openly publish any findings/insights from their work.
  • Funding will be $50K – $100K per proposal, depending on the specific requirements.


  • Payment will be made to the proposer’s host university as an unrestricted gift.


  • Organizations must be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code).
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Applicants may submit one proposal per solicitation.

Timing and dates

  • Applications are due March 15, 2019 at 5:00pm PST.
  • Applications will be reviewed in March.
  • Awardees will be notified by end of March and all funds will be dispersed within three months of the award date (no later than the end of the calendar year).
  • Awardees will be invited to attend workshops in their region to meet with Facebook researchers and other experts. Attendance is not mandatory to qualify for the award but it is encouraged.