Program on Democracy and the Internet

Stanford Funding Opportunity

In partnership with


The Program on Democracy and the Internet (PDI) seeks to support fundamental research that investigates the challenges that democracy faces in the digital age. PDI looks to improve the quality and increase the quantity of basic and applied interdisciplinary research pertaining to the field. Through targeted research grants, PDI aims to build the field of research, looking at questions of polarization, disinformation, market concentration, and foreign electoral interference in the digital age. Toward that goal, PDI aims to fund a robust set of research projects across economics, communication, engineering, computer science, sociology, law, and political science at Stanford University. This opportunity is open to Stanford faculty, research scholars, and graduate students, from all schools.

Deadline: October 31, 2019, 5 p.m.


We seek to support efforts that advance research related to the challenges that democracy faces in the digital age. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Reform options for platforms to combat hate speech, bots, and disinformation
  • Algorithmic bias and automated social engineering
  • Deteriorating health of digital information ecosystems and its effect on democracy and civil rights
  • Changes in the media landscape due to shifts caused by digital innovation
  • Impact of the internet on election campaigns and voting
  • Antitrust and competition policy prescriptions to address the growing power and market concentration of digital platforms

Amount of Funding:

Funding is available in three categories.

  • Up to $5,000 total costs for 12 months
  • Up to $25,000 total costs for 12 months
  • Up to $50,000 total costs for 12 months

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Title Page
    • Project title:
    • PIs/Co-PIs: (include names, titles, departments, phone numbers, email addresses)
    • Total Funding Requested:
  2. Proposal (no more than 2 pages)
    • Elevator pitch: 1-2 sentence description of your project.
    • Project Description
      • What is your research objective?
      • What is your method and process to achieve that objective?
      • What activities do you seek to have funded?
      • Current efforts, if applicable
      • Deliverables
  1. Budget (12 months)
  1. Short CVs for PI and Co-PIs

Please send all questions and completed applications as a single file to Eloise Duvillier, Program Manager of the Program on Democracy and the Internet, at

About the Program on Democracy and the Internet (PDI):

Digital technologies are having a profound impact on democracy in the United States and around the world. New communication platforms that give voice to the previously voiceless also empower nefarious actors who seek to undermine democracy, silence journalists and minority groups, manipulate search engines, sow distrust, and more. Concerns about virality, deception, anonymity, echo chambers, and platform information monopolies pose new challenges for democracy in the digital age. Current research to understand these challenges and, on the basis of theory and evidence, craft solutions, remains nascent, fragmented, and incomplete. A strong knowledge base is critical for policy makers, corporate leaders, and technologists to make decisions that protect and promote democracy in the digital age.

PDI envisions digital technologies supporting rather than subverting democracy by maximizing the benefits and minimizing the threats through changes in policy, technology, and social and ethical technological norms.

The program is led by Principal Investigators Nathaniel Persily, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Faculty Co-Director of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center, Francis Fukuyama, Director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute, and Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society Faculty Co-Director and Professor of Political Science, Rob Reich.

PDI is hosted at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center, part of the Freeman Spogli Institute, in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and the Stanford Law School.