By Don Reisinger
April 9, 2018

Facebook is doubling down on social media’s impact on elections.

The company’s cofounder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Monday announced that Facebook is launching a completely independent research initiative that aims at understanding how social media can impact elections and democracy in general. Zuckerberg said that Facebook will back the initiative but will not have oversight or see the research before it’s released.

“The goal is both to get the ideas of leading academics on how to address these issues as well as to hold us accountable for making sure we protect the integrity of these elections on Facebook,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page.

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Facebook has come under fire of late in the wake of a Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw the political consulting firm use data from tens of millions of Facebook users to help political candidates in their election efforts. The social network also came under fire following the 2016 U.S. presidential election for its platform being used by Russian political operatives to influence voters and ultimately swaying the election in President Donald Trump’s favor.

Zuckerberg acknowledged those complaints in his Facebook update, saying that “it’s clear we were too slow identifying election interference in 2016, and we need to do better in future elections.” He added that the new research initiative reinforces his company’s ” commitment to protect the integrity of elections around the world.”

In a statement accompanying Zuckeberg’s comments, Facebook said that the initiative’s scholars will have full control over their research agenda.

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