January 13, 2020

Measuring Economic Impact in the Digital Economy request for proposals


This Research Award is now closed

With over two billion users and 140 million businesses, digital connections across Facebook apps and technologies—Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Oculus—have meaningful economic impacts on the millions of users and businesses all over the world. With this reach and level of daily engagement in the world’s economic activity, there is significant interest in identifying the value of this economic impact.

Facebook invites academics to respond to this call for research proposals for measuring the value of economic impact in the digital economy. Proposals may request from $50K to $100K for projects expected to be completed in about a year. Topics of interest for this request for proposals (RFP) include, but are not limited to the following:

  • A taxonomy of the digital economy, including sub-sectors within the digital economy
    • The demarcations between the analog and digital economies
    • Shortcomings (if any) of national accounts and other official statistics of GDP
  • Theoretical models of economic impact of the digital economy
    • How to obtain causal impacts and/or identify biases found in non-causal estimates
    • Incorporate the feedback effects due to the multi-sided nature of platforms
    • What needs to be solved for in order to estimate the model
  • Empirical application of theoretical models of causal economic impact
    • The biases (if any) present in reduced-form empirical model
    • Limitations of the model and results, including in scope (geographic, size of business) due to data availability or other issues

Facebook is keenly interested in supporting broader research efforts in this topic and therefore the scope of the RFP is not limited in application to Facebook apps and technologies. We encourage research teams around the world to apply with proposed projects of an empirical and theoretical nature; although, theoretical papers should also consider how measurements might be empirically estimated. Successful proposals will demonstrate innovative and compelling research that has the potential to advance science and understanding in the topic areas and provide value to policymakers, practitioners, and organizations working in these areas.

Proposals should include

  • Summary of the project (1-2 pages): Include an explanation of the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes. Please also include a clear and concise statement of the scientific contribution and routes to eventual deployment.
  • A budget description (1 page): Include an approximate cost of the project and explanation of how funds would be spent. Please also include funds for travel for the Principal Investigator (PI) to attend a workshop in Menlo Park to discuss findings in 2020.
  • Curriculum vitae(s): Provide the name of each researcher involved in the proposed work with their CV/résumé or link to Google Scholar page.
  • Previous collaborations: Indicate any previous or current connections/collaborations with Facebook (in which case, please name the Facebook contacts).
  • Administrative information: Include the institution’s tax ID number and details for both a finance contact and authorized authority that can sign award documentation.


  • The RFP is open to researchers from all disciplines, including economics, political science, sociology, demography, and so on.
  • Organizations must be an accredited academic institution or a 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. All funding will be directed to the PI’s institution.
  • Applicants may submit one proposal per solicitation.
  • Awards must comply with applicable U.S. and international laws, regulations, and policies.
  • Facebook will not provide access to any Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp data for awarded projects. Any data collected by research teams must comply with Facebook’s terms and policies and the institution’s institutional review board. Please be aware that Facebook does not allow the automated scraping of public information from the platform.

Budget and payment

  • Award amount can vary but will typically be between $50K and $100K.
  • Payment will be made to the PI’s host institution as an unrestricted gift. Overhead is limited to 5% for gifts.

Timing and dates

  • Applications are now closed.
  • Notifications will be sent by email to selected applicants in June 2020.

Additional information

Award recipients will be invited to a faculty summit at Facebook to discuss their findings and insights.

We encourage the winners to openly publish any findings or insights from their work. Successful awardees will be also listed on the Facebook Research website.

For additional questions related to this RFP, please email academicrelations@fb.com.

Additional Terms and Conditions

Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to this solicitation, including interpretation of these Terms and awards at any time. Awards will be subject to additional Terms and Conditions for awardees which will be communicated to recipients after selection. All items apply unless otherwise stated above. Please Read These Terms Carefully Before Proceeding.


  • By submitting a proposal, you are authorizing Facebook to evaluate the proposal for a potential award, and you agree to the terms herein.
  • You agree that Facebook will not be required to treat any part of the proposal as confidential or protected by copyright, and may use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce, and distribute all or a portion of your proposal in any manner for the sole purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You agree and acknowledge that personal data submitted with the proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of you and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook for the purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You acknowledge that neither party is obligated to enter into any business transaction as a result of the proposal submission, Facebook is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal, and neither party acquires any intellectual property rights as a result of submitting the proposal.
  • Any feedback you provide to Facebook in the proposal regarding its products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to you.
  • Applicants represent and warrant that they have authority to submit a proposal in connection with this RFP and grant the rights set forth herein on behalf of their organization.


See this page for full Terms and Conditions.