Accountable Tech joined more than 25 groups to deliver the below message in a letter to Twitter’s top advertisers to demand nonnegotiable requirements for their ad business in the midst of Elon Musk’s acquisition:
To whom it may concern:
Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will further toxify our information ecosystem and be a direct threat to public safety, especially among those already most vulnerable and marginalized.
Twitter has outsized influence in shaping both public discourse and industry-wide platform governance standards. While the company is hardly a poster-child for healthy social media, it has taken welcome steps in recent years to mitigate systemic risks, ratcheting up pressure on the likes of Facebook and YouTube to follow suit. Musk intends to steamroll those safeguards and provide a megaphone to extremists who traffic in disinformation, hate, and harassment. Under the guise of ‘free speech,’ his vision will silence and endanger marginalized communities, and tear at the fraying fabric of democracy.
The undersigned organizations believe that Twitter should continue to uphold the practices that serve as guideposts for other Big Tech platforms. We call on you – Twitter’s top advertisers – to commit to these standards as non-negotiable requirements for advertising on the platform:
- Keep accounts including those of public figures and politicians that were removed for egregious violations of Twitter Rules – such as harassment, violence, and hateful conduct – off the platform and continue to enforce the civic integrity policy along with the hateful conduct policy. Since 2020, Twitter has applied its civic integrity policy to all users, including elected officials. Musk’s statements at Ted2022 last week indicate that he will roll-back permanent bans and err on the side of allowing harmful content to remain on the platform under the guise of ‘free speech.’ A reversal of Twitter’s content moderation policies including recently released climate commitments, its protections for transgender people, and its restrictions on other forms of hate, harassment, and violence would be toxic not just for those targeted, but also for businesses advertising on the platform.
- Beyond algorithmic transparency, ensure algorithmic accountability, preserve people’s privacy, and commit to depolarizing the algorithm. Consider the implications of full-scale public visibility into Twitter’s algorithm and put protections in place to prevent bad actors from gaming the system. Listen to privacy experts and others whose expertise includes protecting communities that are discriminated against in speaking truth to power. Continue the work of its in-house research team called Machine Learning Ethics, Transparency and Accountability that looks at potential biases in its algorithms including published research, for instance, on whether the algorithms that automatically crop profile photos contained inadvertent bias.
- Continue Twitter’s commitment to transparency and researcher access. Twitter stands out for its support of researchers – both internal and external to the company. From its API for academic research to its willingness to publish critique and its internal learnings, Twitter has demonstrated a commitment to transparency and access for researchers that sets an example for other Big Tech companies and allows for accountability.
As top advertisers on Twitter, your brand risks association with a platform amplifying hate, extremism, health misinformation, and conspiracy theorists. Under Musk’s management, Twitter risks becoming a cesspool of misinformation, with your brand attached, polluting our information ecosystem in a time where trust in institutions and news media is already at an all-time low. Your ad dollars can either fund Musk’s vanity project or hold him to account. We call on you to demand Musk uphold these basic standards of community trust and safety, and to pull your advertising spending from Twitter if they are not.
Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation
Center for Countering Digital Hate
Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
Face the Music Collective
Fair Vote UK
Friends of the Earth
Gender Equity Policy Institute
Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
Indivisible Northern Nevada
Media Matters for America
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Hispanic Media Coalition
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Stop Online Violence Against Women Inc
The Sparrow Project
Union of Concerned Scientists
V-Day/One Billion Rising
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Co-sign the above letter to Twitter’s top advertisers to demand nonnegotiable requirements for their ad business in the midst of Elon Musk’s acquisition: