Facebook said on Wednesday that it will give funding to a nonprofit at Harvard that is trying to curb cyberattacks aimed political groups and election systems. The social media giant’s money will go to Defending Digital Democracy, a group led by former campaign chairs for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, based at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Though Facebook is providing the initial funding for the center, it said that it hopes other participants will help the organization transition into a group with several members who share information and analysis in “critical areas of the democratic process.”
At Black Hat, an IT security conference, Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said the project was born out of the company realizing that no one was taking responsibility for issues of election hacking. “A huge amount of harm falls outside what we considered to be our problem,” Stamos said. “The real problems is that those issues is generally not anybody else’s problem either.”
The project is set be managed by Eric Rosenbach, former assistant secretary of defense and current co-director of the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Facebook’s efforts in the space come after CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially downplayed the platform being used as a mechanism to try to influence the election.
“To think [Facebook] influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said last November after the election.