May 17, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (@DFRLab) today announced a partnership with Facebook to independently monitor disinformation and other vulnerabilities in elections around the world. The effort is part of an initiative to help provide credible research about the role of social media in elections, as well as democracy more generally.  

The Digital Forensic Research Lab is launching a partnership with Facebook to support the world’s largest community in its efforts to strengthen democracy – aiming to ensure that tools designed to bring us closer together aren’t used to instead drive us further apart,” said Atlantic Council President and CEO Fred Kempe. “Through the innovative work of the Digital Forensic Research Lab, we are building a digital solidarity movement, a community driven by a shared commitment to protect democracy and advance truth across the globe. This partnership is a crucial step towards forging digital resilience.

As the dangers that disinformation in the social media landscape poses to democracy have become increasingly apparent, Facebook is taking measures to remove fake accounts, increase transparency in advertising, reduce the spread of false news and disinformation, and combat foreign interference in elections on its platform. Another important step is Facebook’s efforts to facilitate independent and objective research on social media’s impact on elections, more generally. 

Facebook is investing heavily to prevent our service from being abused during elections. That includes more actively working with outside experts, governments and other companies because we know that we can't solve these challenges on our own,” said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s Global Politics and Government Director. “This partnership will help our security, policy and product teams get real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. It will also increase the number of ‘eyes and ears’ we have working to spot potential abuse on our service – enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.

The Atlantic Council and Facebook’s partnership will promote and supplement @DFRLab’s existing #ElectionWatch efforts and allow for greater capacity building with journalists and civil society to incorporate similar methods into their own work. 

The @DFRLab is at the forefront of open source research with a focus on governance, technology, security, and where each intersect. By publishing what it can prove, or disprove, in real-time, the @DFRLab is creating a new model of research and education adapted for impact, as well as building a global network of #DigitalSherlocks. The @DFRLab remains committed to identifying, exposing, and explaining disinformation where and when it exists. 

More details about the partnership are available from @DFRLab and Facebook.