Facebook opened a request for proposals for academic institutions or NGOs from all over the globe in February 2020. More than 1,000 proposals were received from 70+ countries altogether. Out of these, 25 awardees have been finalized. A group of researchers from Pakistan was among the winners of the Facebook misinformation project.
Researchers From LUMS Among Winners of Facebook Misinformation Project
The social media platform announced the winners of its Foundation Integrity Research: Misinformation and Polarization request for proposals. Amongst the global list of winners are Agha Ali Raza and Ihsan Ayyub Qazi from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
Misinformation and polarization are primary challenges that Facebook faces, amidst the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of February, Facebook Research initiated a request for proposals focusing on these contemporary challenges.
A Senior Researcher at Facebook, Alex Leavitt stated,
Our goal is to support independent research that will contribute to the understanding of these phenomena and, in the long term, help us improve our policies, interventions, and tooling.
Agha Ali Raza and Ihsan Ayyub Qazi’s research elaborates on the role of prior beliefs and analytical reasoning, and how this influences the beliefs of internet users. Along with that, they sought an educational intervention that uses influential public figures to propagate awareness about misinformation reduce polarization.
The winning team stated,
We are thrilled to have our research been awarded the grant by Facebook which would serve as a stepping stone for us to take our project forward. Through our research, we aim to understand how non-textual misinformation (e.g. deepfakes) is perceived by internet users with low digital literacy, and the role of pre-conceived notions and analytical reasoning in shaping the beliefs of such users. We are hopeful that by the completion of this project, we will be able to make a substantial contribution towards combating the circulation of false and unverified information on the internet.