Facebook pitches in $500K to launch Harvard effort to fight election hacking and propaganda attacks

Joe Menn at Reuters reports that Facebook is pitching in an initial $500,000 in seed funding to launch a nonprofit that will work to protect American political parties, voting systems and information providers from malicious attacks by hackers and foreign nation-states.

"Defending Digital Democracy" will be led by former campaign chairs for Hillary Clinton (D) and Mitt Romney (R), and will start out at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, which announced the project last week.

From Joe's Reuters report:

Facebook said it hoped additional participants would turn it into a freestanding information-sharing center controlled by its members. Facebook, with two billion monthly users, bills itself as a vehicle for political debate and education, but was also used as a major platform to spread fake news and propaganda during the U.S. election campaign in 2016.

Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos announced the company's backing at the opening of the Black Hat information security conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The event, named after the term for malicious hackers, is aimed mainly at corporate and government security professionals.

Stamos declined to say how much money the Facebook would spend.

"Right now we are the founding sponsor, but we are in discussions with other tech organizations," Stamos said in an interview before the speech. "The goal for our money specifically is to help build a standalone ISAO (Information Sharing and Analysis Organization) that pulls in all the different groups that have some kind of vulnerability."