Applications are now closed.
Tech companies play an increasingly important role in how societies function; thus, tech companies must be subject to effective public oversight. Whistleblowing has been a critical avenue for such oversight. For example, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, disclosed that Facebook’s algorithms prioritize engagement over safety, leading to the spread of misinformation and hate speech and adversely affecting teen mental health. Ifeoma Ozoma, who worked at Pinterest, highlighted issues of racial discrimination and unequal pay within the company, and she advocated for legislative changes to protect whistleblowers from non-disclosure agreements. Peter “Mudge” Zatko, former head of security at Twitter, alleged that the company hid severe cybersecurity weaknesses from the public and its own board, potentially impacting national security and user privacy.
Whistleblowers provide critical transparency into how tech companies operate, but whistleblowers face a variety of technical and legal challenges. For example, whistleblowers need ways to securely communicate with journalists, regulators, and other members of the public; unfortunately, current platforms for anonymous messaging and bulk data transfer suffer from various problems involving efficiency, usability, and security. These problems are compounded by the fact that whistleblowers from historically disenfranchised groups often lack equitable access to the resources (legal, technological, and otherwise) needed to safely disclose information and prevent employer retaliation.
The Applied Social Media Lab (ASML), in partnership with Harvard’s Institute for Rebooting Social Media (RSM) at the Berkman Klein Center, invites engineers, designers, policy experts, civil society advocates, and entrepreneurs to a one-day workshop to imagine new technology for supporting whistleblowers.
Participants will collaborate with the Institute faculty and the ASML team to produce a survey document that outlines concrete deficiencies of current whistleblowing systems; the document will also propose designs for new technological approaches and human-level processes that will improve the lived experiences of whistleblowers. The document will provide helpful guidance as ASML ramps up its engineering and broader collaborative efforts in the whistleblowing space and other areas of public interest tech. In addition to producing this survey, the event aims to nurture a professional community focused on (re)building social media to serve democracy and the public interest.
As a starting point for additional brainstorming, the project will examine “off-the-shelf” whistleblowing platforms like SecureDrop, FaceUp, and CaseIQ, as well as academic whistleblowing work like Callisto  and academic research for storing and analyzing encrypted data (e.g., CryptDB, DEFY). The program will also invite real whistleblowers and the external parties that assisted those whistleblowers to chat, determining pain points with current whistleblowing tools.
If you want to help us build a community of technologists who work for the public interest, this workshop might be for you!
Participants will be prompted to join in person OR virtually on March 6th, from 11 AM to 4 PM EST]. Note: The format and timing of this workshop (fully virtual or entirely in-person) will be crafted based on the cohort’s availability and interest. See application form for more details.
February 17th February 19th
Cohort Confirmation: February 21st
ABOUT THE APPLIED SOCIAL MEDIA LAB
The Berkman Klein Center (BKC) at Harvard University’s Institute for Rebooting Social Media (RSM) is a three-year, “pop-up” research initiative to accelerate progress on social media’s most urgent problems, including misinformation, privacy breaches, harassment, and content governance. By convening participants across industry, government, civil society, and academia in timebound collaboration, the Institute aims to improve the state of digital social spaces through multi-model output. The Applied Social Media Lab (ASML), established within RSM, is hiring practitioners from industry to develop products, tools, and protocols for existing and new social media platforms. Teams of technologists will work in thematic ‘pods’, generating and driving new ideas, projects, and experiments around themes like Trust and Safety Tooling, Political Deliberation, Disinformation Mitigation and more. The lab’s output will range from white papers to fully functional product prototypes.
WHO SHOULD APPLY
We encourage applications from practitioners whose work focuses on building, managing, and/or reimagining technology that can support the public interest. For this workshop in particular, we are looking for people with demonstrated experience in whistleblowing technology, digital journalism, or the legal aspects of whistleblowing policy. Applicants should have at least three years of experience in their field and be excited by interdisciplinary collaboration.
Applications are now closed.
The Berkman Klein Center community and how we interact with one another are governed by norms and policies developed and maintained by Harvard University and Harvard Law School. The Harvard Law School Community Principles, found in the Handbook of Academic Policies, read:
The Law School’s commitments to fairness, respect for the rule of law, and free inquiry require an environment of trust and mutual respect, free expression and inquiry, and a commitment to truth, excellence, and lifelong learning. Students, program participants, faculty, staff, and alumni accept these principles when they join the Harvard Law School community and thereby agree to respect the rights, dignity, and differences of others, pursue honesty and integrity in dealing with all members of the community in person and online, and accept personal responsibility in these efforts.
The Berkman Klein Center maintains a page to highlight these policies, as well as other applicable policies and resources for accessing additional University support.
1 – What types of resources will participants have access to?
Participants will be able to engage in a structured manner with a vibrant and diverse community of scholars and practitioners on March 6th, 2024. Given the short-term focus of this program, access to campus services, including the library, is not available.
2- What is expected of participants during the program?
Participants must attend the full-time program and engage with their cohort members and lab teammates. By the end of the meeting, participants will have collectively generated a survey document about whistleblowing.
3- I would like to apply with a collaborator or group. Should we submit a joint application, or each apply separately?
For this program, we are only accepting individual applications.
4-Does ASML expects to have any license or rights over the projects developed during the program?
ASML expects that projects developed during (or as a result of) the program will be made available under open-source licenses to ensure broad distribution and dissemination.
5-Are you offering any feedback on applications?
Due to the large number of applications that we receive, we will not offer individual feedback.
For additional questions, contact us at email@example.com.