For Immediate Release
September 10, 2020
Suite of Actionable Proposals Would Stem the Most Urgent Online Threats to Democracy in Unprecedented Election Season
On Thursday, Accountable Tech launched a comprehensive Election Integrity Roadmap for social media platforms as they navigate an election season fraught with unprecedented challenges.
The Roadmap puts forward a suite of actionable proposals – rooted in platforms’ existing policies, tools, and technologies – aimed at stemming the most dangerous vectors of disinformation and incitement between now and the certification of election results. Key proposals include:
As early voting begins: Implement an Election Integrity Strike System with tiered penalties to progressively limit the reach and impact of serial disinformers, defanging the worst actors before the most volatile period of the election season.
As ‘Election Day’ nears: Implement a Platform Poll Watchers program that empowers state election directors and NGOs with expertise in voting rights, election law, or disinformation to promote credible information and responsibly counter false narratives in real-time.
As polls close: Implement a Violence Prevention Preclearance process, automatically flagging election-related posts from the highest-reach accounts for rapid human review to preempt content that would violate violence incitement or civic integrity policies before it’s published.
To support the push for platforms to embrace these recommendations, Accountable Tech is launching a $250,000 advertising campaign that will run over the next two months, as well as a petition drive and other grassroots resources available here.
Accountable Tech will continue to work with a diverse cross-section of partners, activists, and other stakeholders to advance this critical cause over the coming weeks, and is grateful to have the support of Protect Democracy, MapLight, and other leading voices in this fight:
Chloe Colliver, Head of Digital Policy at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue: “While we’ve seen platforms take recent steps to try to close loopholes for disinformation and online manipulation ahead of the elections, there is still a long way to go to ensure a free and fair information space running up to election day. The next few weeks are vital in building an online environment that protects from viral lies about the processes and outcomes of voting, and the roadmap presents tangible and feasible proposals for starting to deal with disinformation threats that we already know exist, without limiting the supply of good information getting out to voters.”
Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel, Digital Deception Project Director at MapLight: “To assure the integrity of the election and to protect our democracy, we must demand that social media platforms combat the spread of deceptive and misleading information, and content that can lead to violence. Ultimately, we need Congress to set clear laws to promote a healthier environment for online political information — but that is not going to happen in the next two months. In the meantime, social media companies themselves must act responsibly and forcefully to ensure the outcome of the election is not determined by the spread of misinformation.”
Ashley Boyd, VP of Advocacy and Engagement at Mozilla: “Tech platforms owe it to individual voters and society at large to rein in disinformation, especially during volatile election periods. But platforms often neglect this responsibility — and sometimes even amplify disinformation further through recommendation engines and other AI systems. In the weeks and months ahead, platforms must enforce existing policies and introduce new ones to ensure they are promoting honest debate, not disinformation campaigns. Decisive action now can safeguard democracy this election season — and also lay the groundwork for more trustworthy platforms and AI down the line.”
Sahar Massachi, former Engineer on Facebook’s Election Integrity Team, and current Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University: “This set of proposals would go a long way towards securing our elections –– but only if social media platforms commit to finally enforcing rules fairly, consistently, and without intervention on behalf of those who wield the most power or complain the loudest. Facebook, YouTube, and others have the capacity to implement these recommendations and a societal responsibility to protect the integrity of our democracy. The only question is whether they have the will.”
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