Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and Non-Profit Project Liberty Announce Launch of New BKC Lab

11 October 2023

Boston, MA and New York, NY (October 11, 2023) Project Liberty and The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University announced today that Frank McCourt and the 501(c)(3) non-profit Project Liberty will support the launch of BKC’s Applied Social Media Lab (ASML)– a first-of-its-kind program to assess and build social media technology in the public interest.

In a time of turmoil in the tech industry, the lab will help integrate and amplify worthy and underappreciated approaches to improving or revolutionizing social media among those in public interest engineering, public policy, and standards setting.

“The Applied Social Media Lab will help bridge research and practice,” said BKC Co-Founder and Faculty Director Jonathan Zittrain. “At Berkman Klein, lab participants will immerse themselves in cross-disciplinary work by collaborating with our community and an extraordinary, diverse class of global fellows.”

Project Liberty is committed to analyzing and developing technical, ethical, and governance infrastructure for emerging technologies, including distributed ones (like the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol). The Berkman Klein Center’s lab starts its work as Project Liberty’s recent founding partners Stanford, MIT, Sciences Po, and Georgetown support the initiative of building a healthier, safer technology environment for society – starting with a better web for a better world. The lab will grow out of the Center’s current Institute for Rebooting Social Media, in collaboration with faculty from across the university, including James Mickens, Lawrence Lessig, Latanya Sweeney (Founder and Director of the Public Interest Tech Lab at the Shorenstein Center), and Jonathan Zittrain.

“Current social media is designed to addict and exploit people, rather than connect and empower them,” said Frank McCourt, Executive Chairman and Founder of Project Liberty. “Project Liberty is leading the efforts to build a better internet, and the solutions produced by those working at the Applied Social Media Lab at Berkman Klein will be concrete steps toward realizing a healthier digital world for society.”

“We’re really excited about the modular design of the Lab as it will enable the teams to work nimbly, pulling in facility members and affiliates as needed in order to develop new technologies and therefore getting us a step closer to a healthier, safer digital ecosystem,” said Martina Larkin, CEO Project Liberty. “Additionally, the openness model BKC is known for plays a key role in this project and we look forward to the participation of many technologists, policy experts, researchers and generally those interested in contributing to our work.”

The announcement comes as the Center enters its twenty-fifth year exploring and building in the digital space.


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