Strengthening Online Platform Accountability
Social media platforms have a growing influence on American life. Unchecked, these networks can distort reality, fuel discrimination, and undermine elections. With stronger accountability, new technology can instead strengthen civic participation while safeguarding civil rights.
Civic Good in the Digital Age
Today, a great deal of civic engagement and community life happens online. As such, the conversations, ideas, and actions of hundreds of millions of Americans are filtered and followed by a handful of private companies. Their algorithms, closed to public scrutiny and tuned to monetize user data, control the content people see and influence our civic experiences. Without sufficient transparency and accountability, online platforms have become hotbeds for disinformation that manipulates, maligns, and disenfranchises voters, especially people of color and women.
At the same time, the rise of these social media companies have also contributed to the decline of traditional media outlets that were once the main source of civic news and information, as advertisers move dollars away from traditional media and toward more targeted advertising on digital platforms. Through public policy, we can hold platforms accountable and support the vital news and information our democracy needs.
The Digital Democracy initiative invests in research, innovations, and collaborations that:
- Provide greater transparency and oversight to combat campaigns of disinformation, minimize misinformation, and define and defend civil rights online
- Prevent discriminatory targeting that threatens the safety, rights, and full participation of marginalized groups, particularly people of color and women
- Help journalists and researchers collect data from digital platforms to conduct and publish studies that inform public debate
- Increase participation of people of color and women in shaping digital spaces and experiences
- Engage platforms in applying the strengths of digital media in a way that promotes high-quality civic information, and fosters healthy dialogue and participation
- Develop and advocate for public policy solutions that can protect people’s rights and safety online and produce new investments in civic information and public interest media.
The NetGain Partnership is a global collaboration working to understand key platform harms threatening democracy, bring together civil society groups to develop shared solutions, and foster learning among funders. It has funded convenings in the U.S. and Europe, mapping research around the world that seeks to understand issues and harms specific to its regions, as well as a small grants fund to seed new ideas and innovative collaborations among U.S. advocates. NetGain supports new relationships between researchers and advocates, specifically in the area of misinformation and online hate.
Public Square strategies support trustworthy local news, press freedom, community engagement in news, investigative journalism, and digital media that advance democracy, not hate.
Trusted and responsible local news and information increases civic engagement, community cohesion, and government accountability — but over the past two decades, many American communities have lost their hometown sources. The Ecosystem News strategy aims to transform local news so everyone has access to information they need to participate in our democracy and live a healthy life.Learn more about this effort
Americans need news that fully reflects their communities and responds to their interests to help them participate meaningfully in democracy, exercise their rights, and inform daily living. Our Engaged Journalism strategy aims to make journalism more inclusive, responsive, and relevant to all Americans.Learn more about this effort
Americans count on a free press to provide answers and reveal truths that those in power would rather obscure. The Press Freedom strategy works to ensure that journalists of all kinds are free to pursue facts of public interest and tell the whole story — and that newsrooms are equipped to defend against attacks and restrictions on reporting.Learn more about this effort
Investigative journalism provides a check and balance on the powerful by shining a spotlight on corruption, conflicts of interest, and decisions that endanger the public. This special project supports the time, deep investment, and protection that this kind of journalism requires.Learn more about this effort