Project Liberty To Help Launch Frances Haugen’s “Duty of Care” Initiative Aimed at Combating Social Media Harms


Today Project Liberty announced a collaboration with Frances Haugen’s “Beyond The Screen” nonprofit to advance a new, open-source effort aimed at holding social networking platforms accountable for harmful practices and reducing social media’s negative impacts. This “Duty of Care” initiative will pool expertise from nonprofit leaders, academics, litigators, and technologists who study the harms created and exacerbated by social media, and also work to identify best practices and deter harmful activities and outcomes.

“The Duty of Care project represents a bold, inclusive, and much-needed effort to drive a seismic shift in how social media operates with society,” said Frank McCourt, founder of Project Liberty. “We look forward to working with Frances and her team to launch this new initiative and advance our shared goal of enabling healthier digital communities and stopping harmful business models.”

Project Liberty, which aims to transform how the internet works to enable healthier digital communities, looks forward to teaming up with Haugen through its McCourt Institute. The McCourt Institute was established in 2021 with founding partners Sciences Po and Georgetown University to ensure that digital governance is prioritized in the development of new technology. The Institute is bringing social scientists and policy experts together with technologists to create new digital governance frameworks and has committed $50 million over 10 years to support researchers and practitioners working to advance technology for the common good.

“We are excited to partner with Project Liberty and join the growing team of interdisciplinary experts and leaders it is building,” said Haugen. “With this collaboration, Duty of Care is well positioned to make social media platforms more accountable and ensure that powerful networks are optimized for the public interest.”

Haugen, a former project manager at Facebook, published internal corporate documents showing that executives were indifferent to the harms caused by the amplification and spread of hateful and false information via its platform. To make all social media platforms more accountable to their users, she recently launched Beyond the Screen, which is initially focusing on the Duty of Care initiative.

This collaboration will support the development of a “Duty of Care” product designed to hold social media platforms accountable to their users and society, and to provide much-needed insight and tools so that individuals, investors, policymakers and others can judge how social media companies perform in terms of user safety, market value and more. By articulating the harms driven by social media and identifying levers to prevent or mitigate such harms, the collaboration ultimately aims to help create an ecosystem of incentives for social media platforms.

“The Duty of Care project will draw together great minds from across nationalities and disciplines, and we are excited to be part of this collective effort,” said The McCourt Institute’s inaugural executive director, Shéhérazade Semsar-de Boisséson. “We are pleased to welcome Frances and her colleagues into Project Liberty’s efforts to transform how the internet works and, specifically, to fix social media and repair what it has broken.” 

About The McCourt Institute

The McCourt Institute, established in 2021 with founding partners Sciences Po in Paris and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., aims to ensure that digital governance is prioritized in the development of new technology and embedded in the next generation of the web. The Institute aims to enhance digital governance by supporting timely, actionable research on ethical technology and serving as a meeting ground for technologists, social scientists, policymakers and governance experts, and leaders from the public and private sector. The Institute supports the goals of Project Liberty, a visionary initiative to transform how the internet works, create a more equitable digital economy, and develop a new civic architecture for the digital world.

About Beyond the Screen

Beyond the Screen is a coalition of technologists, designers and thinkers fighting against online harms, led by the Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen. Beyond the Screen is a continuation of Haugen’s work since she first came forward as a whistleblower in October 2021. Since then, she has testified before governments around the globe and played key advocacy roles in the European Union passing landmark design guidelines for social media companies in April 2022 and California just last week approving a new online kids safety law.

Read the original press release here.

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