Harvard Scholar Claims She Lost Her Job Because of Facebook

(RightWing.org) – The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) launched the Technology and Social Change Project (TaSC) in 2019 to research the manipulation of media sources as a means to “control public conversation, [destabilize] democracy, and disrupt society.” Joan Donovan, Ph.D., served as the TaSC’s principal investigator until the project’s recent termination. Donovan filed a whistleblower-styled complaint alleging that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, pressured school officials into shuttering the program.

On November 28, attorneys with Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit legal advocacy group, submitted a 51-page disclosure on Donovan’s behalf to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona; Harvard President Claudine Gay, Ph.D.; and Diane Lopez, the school’s vice president and general counsel. The notice included an additional 198 pages of exhibits.

Donovan claims she started receiving pushback from HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf in October 2021 after she advised attendees of a Dean’s Council meeting that her team had lawfully acquired copies of internal Facebook documents leaked by a whistleblower the previous month.

Reportedly, a public relations executive from Facebook attended the meeting and became irate when Donovan discussed the so-called “Facebook Files.” She told attendees that the TaSC planned to upload them to a public database on a collaborative platform. The project intended to host workshops for journalists and researchers to assist them in analyzing the extensive set of files.

Then, in December 2021, Facebook started finalizing the transfer of $500 million to HKS from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. According to Donovan’s lawyers, that money represented the largest donation ever received by the school.

Donovan explained that the “mood” at the HKS toward the TaSC “changed overnight” in the wake of that donation. She claimed that school officials started undermining the TaSC’s work “instead of seizing on [the] opportunity” to use the Facebook Files to expand the public’s awareness of social media platforms and how they operate behind the scenes, “hidden from public scrutiny.”

Additionally, Elmendorf reportedly told Donovan that the school was winding down the TaSC’s research and asked her to halt any fundraising efforts for the project. In August, the HKS permanently ended TaSC’s operations.

The following month, Donovan transferred to the Boston University College of Communication after reportedly rejecting an offer to remain at Harvard as a part-time adjunct lecturer.

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