Call for Proposals: Research on Platform Impacts

Internews’ Platform Impacts Fund is excited to share this opportunity for researchers working on understanding and documenting the impacts of technology platforms on diverse information ecosystems.  

Technology platforms have an enormous and expanding influence over the global and local information ecosystems in which we all live. These platforms offer many clear benefits to the communities who use them—but they also cause and enable substantive harm while operating with little transparency or accountability to their global users. The Platform Impacts Fund supports work that seeks to understand and document these impacts, hold platform companies accountable for their role, and build networks of understanding around these issues. 

Internews’ Platform Accountability team aims to broaden research and advocacy efforts on technology platform governance to be more inclusive of independent researchers and civil society organizations from the Majority World. We believe that achieving better governance mechanisms and feedback loops between technology companies and their diverse users from around the world requires meaningful participation from civil society outside English-speaking countries.  

In this new round of requests for proposals, we are specifically opening support to targeted research and advocacy efforts from independent individuals/organizations who may not qualify for traditional grants that require academic affiliations.  

Grants of up to $10,000 will be provided to support research that aims to diversify the body of knowledge on platform accountability.  

Areas of Interest:
  1. Disparities in content moderation: most leading social media platforms originated from the U.S. and traditionally focuses on anglophone users and those based in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. We are looking to support investigations into disparities in content moderation and consequences based on languages or markets. For example, research that examines content moderation shortcomings in a specific region or language, which may have results or impacts for its community not fully addressed or understood by platform trust and safety teams. 
  1. Hate speech, violence, and incitement: We want to support research and documentation of hate speech in non-Anglophone languages and/or political contexts to better understand unintended consequences and explicit abuses of tech platform products. We also welcome research specifically to investigate gender-based violence online or the amplification of offline GBV as a result of tech platform products. Research that examines specific forms of abuse, such as coordinated harassment or brigading of individuals – for example, female public figures – is also of interest. 
  1. Embedding accountability and safety by design: We welcome research that investigates safety and accountability requirements that platforms can include or add to their products to mitigate unintended harm. For example, platform policies for verification may be designed primarily for those with American or European credentials, with negative impacts on platform integrity in other contexts. We are interested in research that can inform policies and practices for proactively designing better products and services to serve overlooked markets/demographics.  
  1. Platform governance methodologies: Internews is interested in models and processes of platform governance, which center accountability to users. Meaningful inclusion of platform users from the Majority World will be central to successful proposals in this area. The role of civil society in platform governance is also a possible area of focus. 
  1. Disinformation: Investigation and documentation of online disinformation is an evolving field. Internews will support research on the role of context experts in under-investigated contexts, including civil society and media, to contribute to these processes. Information sharing, reporting to platforms, and methodologies for documentation and archiving are all areas of interest. 
  1. Quality information and news: The presence of high-quality information on social media platforms is crucial for information providers to reach online audiences and provides an important service for users, especially in times of crisis. However, informational content does not always perform well on platforms in terms of audience engagement. Research that examines the role of locally relevant quality information in this context is of interest.  

All applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and should be submitted online. Should you require special accommodations in your applications, please contact Zoey Tung Barthelemy. The deadline for submission is January 31st, 2022. We appreciate your time and efforts in sharing your research ideas with us, and we will try our best to provide feedback and responses to each application. 

Application (Via Forms) 
  1. Please provide a brief summary of your research topic, goals, and outcome. The excerpt should answer questions such as: what do you want to study? Why do you believe this research is relevant and important?  
  2. Please select the relevant area of interest for your research proposal: 
    • Disparities in content moderation 
    • Hate speech, violence, and incitement 
    • Embedding accountability and safety by design 
    • Disinformation and misinformation 
    • Platform governance methodologies 
    • Good information and news 
  3. Please explain how you plan to conduct this research. You are not expected to share a detailed methodology at this stage, rather you can explain your intended approach. For example, will you be conducting an experiment, interviews, piloting scalable tools, or carrying out specific monitoring).  
  4. Is this research something that you have already started or a brand new initiative? Are you aware of or looked into similar research efforts?  
  5. Why are you best suited to conduct this research? (for example, highlight specific contextual, cultural, or language competencies and expertise). 
  6. Please briefly explain your research capabilities. (provide links to relevant works and past research). 
  7. The nature of the PIF research grant is small and periodic, intended to support ongoing research efforts or provide funding for research topics that are funded by traditional institutional funds. Could you elaborate on how receiving a PIF research grant would be an ideal source of funding for your purposes/organization?