Applications closed

2021 People’s Expectations and Experiences with Digital Privacy request for proposals


Facebook is deeply committed to honoring people’s privacy in our products, policies, and services. Since we serve a diverse global community of users, living up to this commitment necessitates understanding people’s unique privacy needs around the world. This initiative seeks to establish a practical and scalable understanding of how to honor people’s privacy with consideration to the different contexts in which people experience and/or use our products. As such, we want to empower academic experts to broaden and deepen our collective knowledge of global privacy expectations and experiences.

Last year, we launched a similar research award opportunity in this space and received 147 proposals from 34 countries and 120 universities — awarding five winners. We are keen to continue this support for academics from across the social sciences and technical disciplines, including but not limited to disciplines such as anthropology, communications, computer science, economics, engineering, human-computer interaction, human factors, political science, social psychology, and sociology. Most notably, applications that are interdisciplinary and seek collaboration across fields are particularly welcome. Applicants from diverse backgrounds and those with expertise in specific countries, cultures, or vulnerable populations, including those that have not previously been examined in relation to privacy, are especially encouraged to apply. Research methodologies that use qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic, and/or mixed method approaches are all welcome.

We aspire to use this increased understanding, in addition to separate advances in privacy-enhancing technologies and building tools to enhance transparency in fairness and privacy, to develop privacy-first products, inform inclusive privacy policies, and advance internal privacy practices with our diverse user base at the core of our work.

To foster further innovation in this area and to deepen our collaboration with academia, Facebook is pleased to invite faculty to respond to this call for research proposals pertaining to the aforementioned topics. We anticipate awarding a total of four to five awards, each in the $100,000 range. Payment will be made to the proposer’s host university as an unrestricted gift.

Award Recipients

University of Toronto

Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed

Clemson University

Kaileigh Byrne

Nanyang Technological University

Hyunjin Kang

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Yang Wang

American University, Washington, D.C.

Heng Xu

University of Pennsylvania

Pinar Yildirim

Colorado School of Mines

Chuan Yue

Applications Are Currently CLosed

Application Timeline

Launch Date

August 31, 2021


September 30, 2021

Winners Announced

November 2021

Areas of Interest

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

Improving understanding of users’ privacy attitudes, concerns, preferences, needs, behaviors, and outcomes

  • Rigorous development of new scales to more precisely and inclusively measure user self-reported privacy constructs that…
    • Examine specific aspects of users’ privacy attitudes, concerns, and preferences (i.e., beyond high-level privacy-related sentiment)
    • Are psychometrically sound, reliable, and valid, as well as sensitive enough to detect small changes
    • Are validated using representative samples so that the resulting scales are globally relevant and/or globally adaptable
    • Consider different contexts, including but not limited to civil, political, health, and social well-being
  • Broadening or enhancing the knowledge between self-reported attitudes and related observed behaviors
  • Broadening and deepening the understanding of privacy phenomena that might exist between and within countries or sub-cultures aimed at more inclusive privacy policy adoption and product design

Novel assessments of digital transparency and control that are meaningful for diverse populations, context, and data types

  • Interventions aimed at plausible incremental improvements (e.g., increasing knowledge, feelings of efficacy, safety, etc.) for people across current digital platforms should be examined. Research should aim to practically answer one or more of the following questions:
    • What forms of transparency (e.g., in-the-moment, text and non-text, etc.) and which specific types of information can improve digital experiences for people?
    • How specifically should transparency be delivered and evaluated for users of varying degrees of digital skill and/or across different cultural contexts? What does meaningful digital privacy education look like for users with varying degrees of digital skill?
    • How can meaningful privacy education be delivered, managed, and evaluated at scale?
    • How should increased controls be balanced with sensible defaults, accounting for varying degrees of digital skill, need, and motivation to use privacy controls?
    • How should controls be organized to optimize for usability, accounting for varying degrees of digital skill, need, and motivation to use privacy controls?


Proposals should include

  • A summary of the project (1–2 pages), in English, explaining the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes
  • A draft budget description (1 page) including an approximate cost of the award and explanation of how funds would be spent
  • Curriculum Vitae for all project participants
  • Organization details; this will include tax information and administrative contact details


  • Proposals 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.
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Facebook 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 Facebook in its sole discretion) are not eligible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Terms & Conditions

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

  • Facebook 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 Facebook to be appropriate and at Facebook’s sole discretion. Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to its RFPs, and applicants agree not to challenge any such decisions.
  • Facebook 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 Facebook 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 Facebook for the purposes of administering Facebook’s RFP website, evaluating the contents of the proposal, and as otherwise provided under Facebook’s Privacy Policy.
  • Neither Facebook nor the applicant is obligated to enter into a business transaction as a result of the proposal submission. Facebook is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal.
  • Feedback provided in a proposal regarding Facebook products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook 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 Facebook RFP and to grant the rights set forth herein on behalf of their organization. All awards provided by Facebook 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.
  • Awards granted in connection with RFP proposals will be subject to terms and conditions contained in the unrestricted gift agreement (or, in some cases, other mechanisms) pursuant to which the award funding will be provided. Applicants understand and acknowledge that they will need to agree to these terms and conditions to receive an award.