Breaking Campus News. Launching Media Careers.
Harvard ‘Social Media Lab’ will explore ‘governance infrastructure’ of Internet

Nonprofit teams with elite universities in attempt to govern social media

A new social media lab at Harvard University will work on the “governance infrastructure” of Big Tech platforms, following a donation from a group called Project Liberty.

“Project Liberty is committed to analyzing and developing technical, ethical, and governance infrastructure for emerging technologies, including distributed ones,” a news release stated.

The group is setting up similar efforts at Stanford University and Georgetown University, as reported by The College Fix.

Project Liberty founder Frank McCourt said his initiatives will “build a better Internet.”

Project Liberty did not respond to a media inquiry sent in the past month that asked how social media could be ethically managed and whether the group thought right-leaning voices would have a say in this initiative.

Harvard University’s Susan Hendrickson initially responded and forward the email to one staff member, Rebecca Rinkevich, who has yet to answer questions in the past month about the project. Jessica Weaver with Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society said she could not respond due to time constraints with other responsibilities.

A conservative group that is skeptical of Big Tech power shared its concerns with The Fix via email.

“The issues Harvard seeks to address through this social media lab – ranging from misinformation to content governance – are entirely subjective,” Article III Project stated.

“Far from a beacon of moderation, Harvard has long been a stronghold of left-wing opinion, and governing social media based on Harvard’s point of view means a significant portion of Americans will be censored online,” the group stated. “Institutions like Harvard should be bastions of free speech, but instead, projects like this one will likely only suppress freedom of speech on social media.”

MORE: YouTube pushes left-wing content, study finds

Harvard has previously shown an interest in monitoring social media content. It until recently employed a “misinformation” expert who said that memes helped President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

However, Joan Donovan, the former expert, also downplayed the reliability of Hunter Biden’s laptop. The contents have repeatedly been verified as accurate.

Donovan, now at Boston University, also said “right-wing agitators” who post videos of Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots were to blame for creating a narrative of leftist violence, as The Fix previously reported. Donovan also called for social media companies to “work actively to prevent militias and vigilante groups from staging these armed standoffs,” in reference to armed citizens showing up to counter protest leftist riots.

University efforts to reshape social media have come under fire recently, including revelations that Stanford University worked with the Department of Homeland Security and Big Tech to flag posts for censorship.

The California university’s “Election Integrity Partnership,” “surveilled hundreds of millions of social media posts and collected from the cooperating government and non-governmental entities that it calls its ‘stakeholders’ potential violations of social media platforms’ policies concerning election speech,” as reported by RealClearInvestigations.

Stanford and University of Washington have both faced legal action for their role in allegedly helping censor right-leaning social media content prior to the 2020 election.

MORE: Northwestern lab envisions ‘ethical internet’ without capitalism

IMAGE: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Please join the conversation about our stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, MeWe, Rumble, Gab, Minds and Gettr.

About the Author
College Fix contributor Nicholas Kelley is a seminary track student at Boyce College and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to his studies Nicholas volunteers at the theology and music departments of his church.