About Our Impact
About Our Impact
Since our founding in 2020, Accountable Tech has led some of the biggest fights to rein in Big Tech’s growing power, while fostering a healthier and more equitable digital world. We are a small team advocating for long-term structural reform and we rely on grassroots support to push for corporate accountability, regulation and legislative action. We are making major strides, but we need you in this fight.
Founding of Accountable Tech
Accountable Tech launched in May 2020 — staring down a divided Congress, a hostile White House, and an election certain to be defined by misinformation. We built out a multimodal effort to highlight these tech giants’ failures, while pushing thoughtful recommendations for how platforms could protect the election and mitigate societal harms. This included creating a comprehensive Election Integrity Roadmap ahead of the presidential elections that year.
Exposing Facebook’s “Oversight Board”
Accountable Tech exposed Facebook’s Oversight Board as another sham by Mark Zuckerberg to avoid accountability. We conducted research examining the creation and function of the Oversight Board, proving that two years after first introducing the concept, the company had no intention of giving it any power to impose justice and accountability.
Election Integrity Roadmap
Under extreme public pressure, platforms embraced stopgap policies and product changes to slow the spread of election disinformation, many of which we’d proposed in our Election Integrity Roadmap. Among them: the introduction of new forms of “friction” like click-through prompts, limits on sharing, and viral circuit breakers to slow the spread of election misinformation; Twitter overhauling their civic integrity policies, punishing repeat offenders and placing influential users behind strong warning labels; and Facebook and Twitter both temporarily disabling problematic algorithmic tools.
Ban Surveillance Advertising
In the spring of 2021, we coined the term “surveillance advertising” and launched the Ban Surveillance Advertising coalition, bringing together more than 50 leading advocacy organizations fighting for one clear remedy to address the numerous societal harms caused by Big Tech’s toxic business model. The coalition has helped move the Overton Window by redefining the scope of reform that is necessary to begin to hold Big Tech accountable, while creating space for more nuanced remedies.
Stop Instagram for Kids
After it was revealed that Facebook was working on a version of Instagram for kids under 13, Accountable Tech organized a coalition of organizations to urge Facebook to scrap this plan. We collected over 180,000 signatures from across the country demanding that Facebook abandon its plans for Instagram for Kids and launched a national television ad highlighting Facebook’s own internal research. In September, Facebook announced a pause on Instagram for Kids and in November, a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general announced a new investigation into how Instagram attracts and affects young people, based on the revelations in the Facebook Papers and amplified by our coalition.
Keep Trump Off Facebook
Almost five months after Facebook suspended Trump from its platform for his role in the Capitol Insurrection, the company announced that the suspension would only last for at least two years from the initial action. In response, we launched our campaign to Keep Trump Off Facebook to make the former president’s suspension permanent, highlighting Mark Zuckerberg’s own unequivocal assertion that Trump used Facebook to “incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”
First-of-its-kind FTC rulemaking petition
Building upon robust grassroots and legislative campaigns, we added a significant regulatory component to our efforts by filing a 65-page rulemaking petition urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban surveillance advertising as an “unfair method of competition.” Our petition makes a carefully constructed argument that the surveillance advertising business model is inherently anticompetitive, perpetually tipping the scales in favor of Big Tech companies with the most extensive surveillance apparatuses.
Main Street Against Big Tech
We launched the Main Street Against Big Tech campaign with a diverse coalition of small business owners from across the country, whose personal stories paint a very different picture than the one told by Big Tech lobbyists and marketers. The Main Street Against Big Tech campaign undercuts that argument by having small business owners explain the many ways that Big Tech companies have mistreated, exploited, and disadvantaged their businesses.
California Kids Code Coalition
We joined the California Kids Code Coalition to advocate for the passage of the California Age Appropriate Design Code (AADC). Recognizing the bill as a singular opportunity — not just to protect kids in California, but to ultimately reshape the digital landscape for everyone — we implemented a multi-pronged campaign aimed at uplifting youth voices, pressuring California lawmakers, and raising awareness on the significance of this legislation. Later that year, the California Age Appropriate Design Code passed unanimously and was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom into law.
Design It For Us
We collaborated with youth advocacy groups, LOG OFF and Tech(nically) Politics, to create and launch the ‘Design It For Us’ campaign, an innovative multimedia effort for young people to share why online spaces should be designed with them in mind. The campaign has since evolved into an advocacy coalition of the same name, led by youth advocates Emma Lembke and Zamaan Qureshi.
Fighting back against Musk’s Twitter and launching the Stop the Deal Coalition
We led an open letter signed by more than 20 advocacy groups to Twitter’s top advertisers, calling on them to uphold three nonnegotiable standards of community trust and safety throughout Musk’s acquisition of the company. The letter caught the attention of Musk himself who publicly commented. Soon after, we launched the “Stop the Deal” campaign – a diverse coalition to leverage legal and regulatory mechanisms, strategic engagement with key stakeholders like advertisers and investors, and congressional oversight to intervene in Musk’s Twitter acquisition.
Calling on Google to stop collection of location data
After the leak of the draft Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, our team quickly realized the responsibility of Big Tech platforms to protect the privacy of their users, particularly as digital data could be sought by right-wing state governments in order to prosecute those receiving abortion care in a post-Roe world. We ran an experiment to test if Google’s public commitment to protect people’s privacy was actually implemented. Our findings revealed that Google still retains user location data and search queries for abortion clinics, despite publicly pledging to do otherwise.
Despite months of public attempts to back out of the deal, Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter. We quickly coordinated with key partners to launch a coalition campaign to #StopToxicTwitter. In a public letter signed by more than 60 organizations and notable individuals including Nobel Peace Prize Winner Maria Ressa, we called on Twitter’s top advertisers to notify Musk and publicly commit to cease all advertising on Twitter globally.
Putting Pressure on Google
At a Google I/O conference in Mountain View, CA, Accountable Tech flew an airplane banner above the outdoor venue to demand that the company “Protect Abortion Privacy” in light of Accountable Tech's research showing that Google continues to retain sensitive health data that could endanger abortion seekers in post-Roe America, despite promising to protect user privacy. The plane flew overhead during Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s opening keynote, where reporters noted that the plane and its message caught the attention of Pichai and attendees, and took place as hundreds of social media posts including those from celebrities called on Google to stop retaining sensitive location data.
Zero Trust AI Governance framework
Accountable Tech partnered with AI Now Institute and EPIC to jointly release a new “Zero Trust AI Governance” framework which offers policymakers a robust and enforceable roadmap for addressing the urgent societal risks posed by these technologies. The framework’s proposals are broadly organized by three overarching principles: (1) Time is of the essence – start by vigorously enforcing existing laws; (2) Bold, easily administrable, bright-line rules are necessary; and (3) At each phase of the AI system lifecycle, the burden should be on companies to prove their systems are not harmful.
Democracy By Design
With more than 50 countries set to hold elections in 2024, Accountable Tech partnered with leading civil society organizations at the nexus of democracy and technology to launch a new election integrity framework that focuses on content-agnostic recommendations for online platforms to mitigate the threats of election manipulation. “Democracy By Design” outlines realistic and measured proposals rooted in tech companies’ own product design and policy toolkits in order to protect both freedom of expression and free and fair elections.
We work to bring about long-term structural reform to tackle the existential threat Big Tech companies pose to our information ecosystem and democracy.
Accountable Tech brings together expert advocacy, policy, communications, and digital professionals to take on Big Tech.
Join our team as we work to advocate for structural reforms to repair our broken information ecosystem.