Facebook wants to secure democracy.
The social media giant said Wednesday it would bankroll a new anti election-hacking group based within a think tank affiliated with Harvard University. The project, part of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and co-led by campaign managers for erstwhile presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, will attempt to prevent external actors (looking at you, Russia) from digitally attacking, interfering with, or otherwise influencing elections.
Alex Stamos, Facebook’s (FB) chief security officer and Fortune 40 Under 40 alum, announced that the company would contribute to the initiative during a keynote address at the Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas. The company said it would donate $500,000 to the group, which is staffed with advisors from the private sector—such as Facebook, Google (GOOG), and Crowdstrike—as well as former U.S. government officials.
“We’re basing this on other industries, like finance and health care, which have done a great job building out ISACs,” Stamos tells Fortune, using an industry acronym that refers to “information sharing and analysis centers,” organizations where competitors come together to swap intel, tools, warnings, and best practices in the interest of collective defense.
“If there is an attack in an industry, other members are made aware of it,” Stamos says. “We don’t have an equivalent for our democracy, and I think it’s important to build that as a standalone nonprofit.”
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Everyone should be familiar, by now, with the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Russian agents infiltrated the computer networks of political parties, campaign officials, and state and local election boards last year. That was in addition to how the agents waged bot-fueled disinformation campaigns, not least of all on Facebook, to sway public opinion. Since then, similar stunts have been performed in France, Germany, and elsewhere.
In the past few months, Facebook has been unveiling tools, such as a fact checking alert, to combat fake news for its 2 billion monthly users. Since the beginning of the year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been touring the country, getting to know the American electorate.
In addition to the non-profit sponsorship, Facebook said it plans to re-up its 3-year-old Internet Defense Prize, an award for defensive cybersecurity research, with an additional $1 million in funding that will be divvied up among a crop of winners next year. The company said it is also funding scholarships aimed at increasing diversity within the information security industry.
As part of that effort, Facebook is developing a cybersecurity course with CodePath, a group that teaches tech skills, it said. Schools involved include The City College of New York, Hofstra University, Merritt College, Mississippi State University, California State University San Bernardino, and Virginia Tech.