Facebook teams with Harvard to defend democracy from hackers

coding-hacker

Facebook announced today it would fund a project called Defending Digital Democracy. The project, co-founded by the campaign managers for both Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, aims to thwart outside interference in elections.

The Belfer Center at The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University announced the project earlier this month. Eric Rosenbach, Co-Director of the Belfer Center and former Assistant Secretary of Defense will be heading it up. In a Harvard press release he said:

Americans across the political spectrum agree that political contests should be decided by the power of ideas, not the skill of foreign hackers. Cyber deterrence starts with strong cyber defense — and this project brings together key partners in politics, national security, and technology to generate innovative ideas to safeguard our key democratic institutions.

The announcement came during Black Hat, an annual security event held in Las Vegas. Reuters reports Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said:

Right now we are the founding sponsor, but we are in discussions with other tech organizations. The goal for our money specifically is to help build a standalone ISAO (Information Sharing and Analysis Organization) that pulls in all the different groups that have some kind of vulnerability.

Stamos declined to say how much money Facebook would be contributing to the Defending Digital Democracy project. He did, however, announce that Facebook would be offering a $1 million Internet Defense Prize for researchers this year, according to Financial Times.

The social network also announced it would be investing in education by joining forces with CodePath, a training company that provides free education for engineers.

Facebook has shown a vested interest in fighting fake-news, though perhaps this isn’t entirely altruistic. The social network might not have intentionally meddled in the 2016 Presidential election, but the role that false news articles on Facebook played can’t be overstated.

In a few long years we’ll start the entire US Presidential election circus all over again, in the mean-time we’ve got hundreds of elections from the State to Federal level occurring first. The Defending Digital Democracy team has more than its fair share of work ahead.

Update 1:47 PM CST : A representative for Facebook contacted us to say that the social network was disclosing it pledged $500,000 to the Defending Digital Democracy project.

Facebook funds Harvard effort to fight election hacking, propaganda on Reuters

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