Facebook Partners with Harvard, Princeton and 15 Universities Advancing Tech Research - Dispatch Weekly

December 23, 2016 - Reading time: 4 minutes

Facebook Inc.’s hardware development division has agreed with 17 Universities, including Harvard and Princeton, to collaborate on technological research projects.

Facebook will pay chosen universities to research topics, as the social media network continues to expand in artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), buying WhatsApp and the Oculus Rift headset.

New Revenue Streams

Photo Credit: Facebook, Community Update

The company, known to be worth $350 billion, is seeking to find new revenue streams after hitting advertising growth limits on the 1.8 billion monthly active users.

Other universities include: MIT, California Instititute of Technology, Stanford, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northeastern University and Johns Hopkins University among others.

Isaac Kohlberg, chief technology development officer at Harvard said, “When curiosity strikes, with this new agreement in place, Harvard researchers can initiate new projects with scientific colleagues at Facebook almost immediately.”

He added, “This agreement with Facebook recognizes that the most significant, transformative solutions will be informed by university silence.”

Fake News Controversy and Fact Checkers

This news comes after the much-publicized news that Facebook may have contributed to fake news that influenced the election results.

In a statement on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said:

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic.”

“Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics.”

“Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”

Facebook now uses filters to show reputable articles on the trending news stories section.

Media fact checkers are now in place, ranging from ABC News, FactCheck.org, Associated Press, Politifact and Snopes.

David Wehner, the company’s chief financial officer, said that 2017 would be a year of aggressive investment with an increase in expenses.

Facebook Becoming a Media Company

The new funding into research may be a signal that Facebook is establishing itself as a media company, but not a “traditional” one.

In an interview with Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg said, “Facebook is a new kind of platform.”

“It’s not a traditional technology company. It’s not a traditional media company. You know, we build technology and we feel responsible for how it’s used.”

He added, “We don’t write the news that people read on the platform. But at the same time we also know that we do a lot more than just distribute news, and we’re an important part of the public discourse.”

How do you feel about Facebook becoming a multi-plaform business, getting into media, AI and VR?

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.