WhatsApp launches research awards for social science and misinformation


Organisation:  Economic Times

Applications are welcome from individuals with established experience studying online interaction and information technologies

Posted On:  06 Jul . 2018
WhatsApp launches research awards for social science and misinformation
 

WhatsApp has announced that it plans to work with leading academic experts in India and will commission a competitive set of awards to researchers interested in exploring issues that are related to misinformation on the platform. WhatsApp said it welcomes proposals from any social science or related discipline that foster insights into the impact of technology on contemporary society in this space. The company's research awards will provide funding for independent research proposals that are designed to be shared with WhatsApp, Facebook, and wider scholarly and policy communities. These are unrestricted monetary awards that offer investigators the freedom to deepen and extend their existing research portfolio.

Applications are welcome from individuals with established experience studying online interaction and information technologies, as well as from persons seeking to expand their existing research into these areas. "WhatsApp cares deeply about the safety of our users. Through this new project, we look forward to working with leading academic experts in India to learn more about how online platforms are used to spread misinformation. This local research will help us build upon recent changes we have made within WhatsApp and support broad education to help people spot false news and hoaxes," said a WhatsApp spokesperson

For this first phase of the programme, WhatsApp will seriously consider proposals from any social science and technological perspective that propose projects that enrich their understanding of the problem of misinformation on WhatsApp. High priority areas include (but are not limited to)- Information processing of problematic content: Proposals that explore the social, cognitive, and information processing variables involved in the consumption of content received on WhatsApp, its relation to the content's credibility, and the decision to promote that content with others.

This includes social cues and relationships, personal value systems, features of the content, content source etc. Election related information which will include proposals that examine how political actors are leveraging WhatsApp to organise and potentially influence elections in their constituencies, understanding the unique characteristics of WhatsApp for political activity and it's place in the ecosystem of social media and messaging platforms, distribution channels for political content, targeting strategies, etc. Network effects and virality will include proposals that explore the characteristics of networks and content while digital literacy and misinformation will include proposals that explore the relation between digital literacy and vulnerability to misinformation on WhatsApp.

Detection of problematic behavior within encrypted systems will include proposals that examine technical solutions to detecting problematic behavior within the restrictions of and in keeping with the principles of encryption. WhatsApp said its end-to-end encrypted system facilitates privacy and security for all WhatsApp users, including people who might be using the platform for illegal activities. "We are particularly interested in understanding and deterring activities that facilitate the distribution of verifiably false information,' the company said in a statement.

The program will make unrestricted awards of up to $50,000 per research proposal. WhatsApp said its preference is for proposals based on independent research, in which the applicant develops conceptual tools, gathers and analyzes data, and/or investigates relevant issues. Each awardee will retain all intellectual property rights to their data and analysis. WhatsApp staff may provide guidance, but investigators are responsible for carrying out the scope of work.

 

 

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sumit patel 8989682101
Jul 10 2018 10:41 AM
sumit patel 8989682101
 
 

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