Civil Society Leaders, Tech Accountability Experts Call for Federal Investigation Into CZI Donations to Harvard
Department of Education Should Review Chan Zuckerberg’s Influence Over Disinformation Institute, Shuttering of Joan Donovan’s Research
4 December 2023 — Responding today to disinformation expert Joan Donovan’s whistleblower complaint, the Real Facebook Oversight Board called for a full investigation by the U.S. Department of Education into the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s $500m donation to Harvard University, and subsequent shuttering of Dr. Donovan’s Technology and Social Change Research Project.
“At a moment of spiraling misinformation and online extremism across social media, the Technology and Social Change Research Project was a bright light exposing online harms,” said a spokesperson for the Real Facebook Oversight Board. “What’s alleged in Dr. Donovan’s whistleblower complaint would constitute brazen influence peddling by Meta. The Department of Education should investigate this serious allegation that a titan of industry is using his money and power to silence research about his company.”
“Joan Donovan speaks truth to power and doesn’t back down. We are grateful to her and to Whistleblower Aid for taking this necessary step. Now it’s up to the DOE to step up as well, and do what’s right to ensure that academic integrity can’t be sold to the highest bidder.”
Through its project The Facebook Receipts, the Real Facebook Oversight Board has tracked Meta’s extensive, multi-million dollar efforts to buy influence and access. Former RFOB member Laura Edelson also saw her academic research targeted by Meta; her NYU Ad Observatory was locked out of access to Meta platforms in 2021.
“Meta can try to stomp out criticism through multi-million dollar donations, but researchers and others have the truth on their side,” added a spokesperson for the Real Facebook Oversight Board. “Together we will continue to call for external, independent research, oversight, regulation, legislation and, if necessary, litigation to shine a light on the harms occurring across Meta’s platforms.”
Real Facebook Oversight Board members are available for interviews. Statements do not reflect the individual positions of all Real Facebook Oversight Board Members. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Real Facebook Oversight Board is an emergency response to the ongoing harms on Facebook’s platforms from leading global scholars, experts and advocates