Leading Civil Society Groups Introduce Election Integrity Framework for Online Platforms

For Immediate Release
September 27, 2023

“Democracy by Design” effort offers content-agnostic roadmap to mitigate threats of election manipulation

With more than 50 countries set to hold elections in 2024, a coalition of leading civil society organizations at the nexus of democracy and technology today announced a new election integrity framework that focuses on content-agnostic recommendations for online platforms to mitigate the threats of election manipulation. Accountable Tech is joined by Center for American Progress, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Humane Tech, Common Cause, EPIC, Institute for Strategic Dialogue, Issue One, Public Knowledge, and Ranking Digital Rights.

“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. It includes three major planks, under which there are specific recommendations and background to support them:

  • Bolstering Resilience, which focuses on ‘soft interventions’ that introduce targeted friction and context to mitigate harm;
  • Countering Election Manipulation, which outlines bulwarks against evolving threats posed by malign actors and automated systems; and
  • Paper Trails, which highlights key transparency measures needed to assess systemic threats, evaluate the efficacy of interventions, and foster trust.

“As tech companies scale back their trust and safety teams amid unprecedented threats to democracy, we are putting forward a set of high-impact, readily actionable, consensus-building interventions that every platform can and should implement to mitigate harm,” said Jesse Lehrich, Co-Founder of Accountable Tech. “Preventing election manipulation has never been more urgent, and we sincerely hope industry leaders will utilize this roadmap to meet this historic challenge.”

“At a time when foreign and domestic false information campaigns are more sophisticated than they ever have been, U.S. tech companies have responded by gutting their integrity teams and unleashing new AI tools with the potential to turbocharge the efforts of bad actors,” said Nick Penniman, CEO and Co-Founder of Issue One. “The Democracy by Design framework lays out clear, content-neutral, and effective steps Big Tech can take to ensure that their platforms are enhancing, rather than undermining, our democracy.”

“This framework staunchly upholds the virtue of transparency as the linchpin in mitigating the multifaceted threats to elections, permeating through the deficiencies of content moderation systems, the implications of generative AI, and the complexities of algorithmic recommendation systems,” said Ranking Digital Rights Research Analyst Jie Zhang.


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