Applications closed

2022 WhatsApp Research Awards: Privacy Aware Program Analysis Request for Proposals

About

Over two billion people in more than 180 countries use WhatsApp to stay in touch with friends and family, anytime and anywhere. WhatsApp is free and offers simple, secure, reliable messaging and calling, available on phones all over the world.

Our mission is to connect the world privately. To provide that privacy, it is critical to maintain the security of the code powering WhatsApp systems. WhatsApp has made substantial enhancements in-house by developing industry-leading technology on program analysis for privacy, and wants to build strong partnerships with experts in academia to tackle some of the most challenging problems in this space. Below is a summary of the areas of research that would have the most impact.

To foster further innovation in program analysis for privacy, and to deepen our collaboration with academia, WhatsApp is pleased to invite faculty to respond to this call for research proposals. We anticipate awarding up to six winners $50,000 each. Payment will be made to the proposer's host university as an unrestricted gift.


Applications Are Currently CLosed

Application Timeline

Launch Date

June 15, 2022

Deadline

July 25, 2022, at 5:00pm AOE (Anywhere on Earth)

Winners Announced

October 2022

Areas of Interest

While all proposals are welcome, we are particularly interested in those that address fundamental problems around verifying that software satisfies given privacy properties. For example, formal techniques or automatic testing for finding privacy vulnerabilities in source code. Example topics include the following:

1. Code Analysis for Privacy

  • Static analysis
  • Dynamic analysis
  • Type systems
  • Program logics for privacy
  • Program verification
  • Software model checking
  • Combination of formal verification techniques (static and dynamic, etc.)

2. Software Testing

  • Fuzz testing
  • Search-based software testing
  • Privacy testing
  • Model-based testing
  • Test automation
  • Symbolic execution
  • Theory of software testing aimed at privacy
  • Testing for learning-enabled software, including deep learning

3. Runtime Verification

  • Monitoring techniques
  • Runtime checking of privacy policies
  • Recording and replay
  • Specification languages for monitoring

Requirements

Proposals should include

  • A summary of the project (one to two pages), in English, explaining the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes
  • Applicants must be current full-time faculty at an accredited academic institution that awards research degrees to PhD students
  • Curriculum Vitae for all project participants
  • Organization details; this will include tax information and administrative contact details

Eligibility

  • The proposal must comply with applicable U.S. and international laws, regulations, and policies.
  • Applicants must be current full-time faculty at an accredited academic institution that awards research degrees to PhD students. Students, including PhD students, are not eligible as applicants.
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Meta cannot consider proposals submitted, prepared, or to be carried out by individuals residing in or affiliated with an academic institution located in a country or territory subject to comprehensive U.S. trade sanctions.
  • Government officials (excluding faculty and staff of public universities, to the extent they may be considered government officials), political figures, and politically affiliated businesses (all as determined by Meta in its sole discretion) are not eligible.

Additional Information

  • Award recipients will be listed on the Meta Research website and will also be invited to discuss their findings and insights.
  • We encourage the winners to openly publish any findings or insights from their work.
  • For additional questions related to this RFP, please email academicrelations@fb.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you typically limit the salary of the PI in the gift?

    Most of the RFP awards are an unrestricted gift. Because of its nature, salary/headcount could be included as part of the budget presented for the RFP. Since the award/gift is paid to the university, they will be able to allocate the funds to that winning project and have the freedom to use as they need. All Meta teams are different and have different expectations concerning deliverables, timing, etc. Long story short – yes, money for salary/headcount can be included. It’s up to the reviewing team to determine if the percentage spend is reasonable and how that relates to the decision if the project is a winner or not.

  • Should proposals be double- or single-spaced? Is there any required/expected font?

    We are flexible, but ideally proposals submitted are single-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt font.

  • What is the award cycle or when does the funding year begin and end?

    Research awards are given year-round and funding years/duration can vary by proposal.

  • Can award funds be used to cover a researcher's summer salary while conducting research?

    Yes, award funds can be used to cover a researcher’s salary.

  • Can you please explain the budget breakdown in more detail?

    Budgets can vary by institution and geography, but overall research funds ideally cover the following: graduate or post-graduate students’ employment/tuition; other research costs (e.g., equipment, laptops, incidental costs); travel associated with the research (conferences, workshops, summits, etc.); overhead for research gifts is limited to 5%.

  • We are working as co-PIs. Is it possible to list both of our names as PI for an RFP proposal?

    Co-PIs are welcome! One person will need to be the primary PI (i.e., the submitter that will receive all email notifications); however, you’ll be given the opportunity to list collaborators/co-PIs in the submission form. Please note in your budget breakdown how the funds should be dispersed amongst PIs.

  • Can I have a co-PI from a different institution?

    Absolutely. We welcome submissions from collaborators/co-PIs at the same or different institutions. (See FAQ above for co-PI submission form instructions.) Please note, payment will be made to the primary PI’s host institution. It can be further disbursed by that institution.

  • If a proposal is selected as a winner and has co-PIs from different institutions, can you split the award?

    As mentioned above, we welcome submissions from multiple co-PIs from the same or different institutions on a single proposal. All names and institutions will be named as part of the award communication on the Meta Research website; however, the full amount of the award payment will be made to the primary PI’s host institution and can be further disbursed by that institution.

  • What are the terms and conditions if my proposal is selected as a winner and is awarded as a GIFT?

    Generally, RFP winners that are awarded as gifts will be provided a standard Meta-branded gift letter requiring signature from an authorized university representative in order to initiate the payment process. University representatives, administrators, or other partners with an interest in the specific terms can review below. The gift letter contains standard terms and conditions included in all Meta gift letters with academics, such as:

    • The gift is inclusive of all fees and charges that may apply.
    • The management and expenditure practices and any assessment applied to the gift shall be done in accordance with university policies and procedures.
    • Meta will have no control or influence over the independent conduct of any studies or research performed using the gift, or over the dissemination of research findings.
    • All intellectual property or data resulting from the use of the gift will be retained by university/institution and university/institution may publicly disclose the results of research supported by the gift in academic publications, presentations, grant/funding applications, etc.
    • The university/institution confirms that its acceptance and use of the gift:
      • will not interfere with the official duties of its faculty or employees and that the university/institution will not allow its faculty or employees to perform any official action to improperly benefit Meta.
      • complies with applicable regulations, policies, and rules of the university/institution.
      • will not violate applicable laws, including laws relating to export control, trade sanctions, anti-corruption, or political activities laws.
      • does not conflict with any other obligation university/institution, its faculty or employees may have to any other party.
      • the university/institution will promptly inform Meta of any circumstances that would make acceptance, retention, or use of the gift inappropriate.
    • Both parties shall agree in advance on the content of any public announcement or posting relating to the gift and written consent must be obtained to use either parties’ name, trademark, or logo in any such public announcement or post.
    • Meta may include a factual statement about the gift in its public reports or blog posts on the research.facebook.com website without prior notice to or consent from the university/institution.

Terms & Conditions

Meta’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to Meta RFP solicitations, including whether or not to grant an award and the interpretation of Meta RFP Terms and Conditions. By submitting a proposal, applicants affirm that they have read and agree to these Terms and Conditions.

  • Meta is authorized to evaluate proposals submitted under its RFPs, to consult with outside experts, as needed, in evaluating proposals, and to grant or deny awards using criteria determined by Meta to be appropriate and at Meta sole discretion. Meta’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to its RFPs, and applicants agree not to challenge any such decisions.
  • Meta will not be required to treat any part of a proposal as confidential or protected by copyright, and may use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce and distribute all or a portion of the proposal in any manner for the sole purposes of administering the Meta RFP website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • Personal data submitted with a proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of the applicant and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Meta for the purposes of administering Meta’s RFP website, evaluating the contents of the proposal, and as otherwise provided under Meta’s Privacy Policy.
  • Neither Meta nor the applicant is obligated to enter into a business transaction as a result of the proposal submission. Meta is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal.
  • Feedback provided in a proposal regarding Meta products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Meta is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to the applicant. The submission of a proposal will not result in the transfer of ownership of any IP rights.
  • Applicants represent and warrant that they have authority to submit a proposal in connection with a Meta RFP and to grant the rights set forth herein on behalf of their organization. All awards provided by Meta in connection with this RFP shall be used only in accordance with applicable laws and shall not be used in any way, directly or indirectly, to facilitate any act that would constitute bribery or an illegal kickback, an illegal campaign contribution, or would otherwise violate any applicable anti-corruption or political activities law.
  • Funding for winningRFP proposals will be provided to the academic institution with which the primary investigator/applicant is affiliated pursuant to a gift or other funding model as specified in the RFP call. Applicants understand and acknowledge that their affiliated academic institution will need to agree to the terms and conditions of such gift or other agreement to receive funding.
  • Applicants acknowledge and agree that by submitting an application they are consenting to their name, university / organization’s name and proposal title being made public on Meta’s blog on the research.facebook.com website if they are chosen as an RFP winner or finalist. If an applicant is selected as a winner or finalist, they will then have the opportunity to provide written notification that they do not consent to the research.facebook.com blog inclusion.
Stay Connected
Receive email notifications about our research awards