Facebook to Give Up to Five Awards of US$75,000 Each for Social VR Research Proposals

Facebook Research dropped the following announcement, which I somehow missed, which will be of some interest to academic researchers in the area of social virtual reality:

Facebook is…soliciting proposals to help accelerate research in social VR with the hope of fostering open, welcoming, and safer virtual worlds. There are fairly robust research fields in traditional 2D social platforms, and we hope to drive similar progress in the fields of 3D and virtual reality social interaction. We anticipate awarding a total of five awards of up to $75,000 USD each. Payment will be made to the proposer’s host university in the form of a grant awarded by a third-party donor-advised fund, per the Terms & Conditions set forth below.

We strongly encourage researchers from diverse backgrounds and of diverse abilities to apply.

Facebook also provides three topics that they are especially interested in, but also state that “Researchers are encouraged to propose additional topics relevant to the theme of social interactions and social user experiences in VR environments.” The three areas are:

1. How does social VR contribute to social connection?

As with any form of interactive platform, virtual reality can help us better understand user behaviors and psychology. Facebook is interested in learning how immersive 3D VR experiences can help us better understand topics related to social connection, interaction and interpersonal relationships (virtual and real).

Social networks and groups are fundamental forums for interaction on these platforms. We are interested in how groups and communities arise, operate, and facilitate interaction in social VR environments.

2. What lessons in social interaction, social psychology and experience have we learned from 2D social platforms that apply to 3D immersive environments?

Despite immersive social platforms being relatively new to society, there are countless lessons that we can take from research on 2D social platforms that have been in existence for decades.Facebook is interested in discovering how research areas like social interaction, social anxiety and online harassment from a 2D lens can be applied to further understand experiences in 3D social VR environments.

3. How can we ensure user safety for teens in social VR environments?

Facebook is interested in how immersive social VR experiences affect teens (ages 13-18) in particular. Further, Facebook seeks to understand how social VR platforms can mitigate threats such as online addiction, online harassment, cyberbullying, and other safety concerns for younger users.

The deadline for applications is October 29th, 2020. For further details, including the terms and conditions of these awards, please see the Facebook Research website for this award. For a listing of all current research award opportunities, please see Facebook’s Research Awards page.

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