Campaign Asks



A Call for “Big Tech Action Plans”

Fully and equitably resourced Action Plans – at global and country levels – should be designed to protect the freedoms, rights and safety of users during the 2024 global election cycle, including the right to free expression and non-discrimination, and providing an online information environment conducive to free and fair elections (free of misinformation, hate speech, and manipulation) whether or not the local political context is free and fair. Moreover, attention should be given to preventing online harms to groups who have been shown time and again of being at particular risk during election periods, notably women politicians.

We demand each Big tech company establish and publish fully and equitably resourced 2024 Action Plans (globally and for each country holding elections), including the following fundamental features:

  1. Mainstream international human rights and electoral standards. This means assessing the compliance of existing and new policies and enforcement protocols with human rights and electoral standards. It means engaging with election bodies, free of political interference, and enabling the work of independent election monitors.
  2. Expeditiously publish and respond to the findings of robust human rights impact assessments or commission these assessments where they haven’t yet been conducted, adopting best international practices. Independent and external parties should conduct the assessments, whose results should be transparently incorporated into decision-making and planning processes, as well as communicated to stakeholders to enable better preparation for election periods.
  3. Be fully resourced and proportionate to risk of harm, not market size. This means investment figures and numbers of employees and contractors per language/dialect, for trust and safety efforts per country must be published and resourcing decisions justified, and provisions made to ensure expertise on national and regional context, languages and dialects for content moderation. More importantly, companies and regulators must focus on the impacts of these policies and investments: people should be protected even in markets with particular human rights challenges, with a view to maintaining equitable access to safe online platforms worldwide. It means the companies must address the past gross inequity of billions invested to protect the US elections compared to neglect of global majority countries where they pose a risk to rights and freedoms in 2024. Companies should adopt a standardised reporting format to document their actions during this period, to allow researchers, regulators, civil society and other actors to monitor their actions and impacts in full transparency.
  4. Provide the full spectrum of tools and measures available, both new tools developed in response to threat/risk assessment and mitigation exercises as well as the best proven tools and measures already road-tested in markets where companies have most invested in elections-related trust and safety to date (namely the United States). This means total transparency on what has been implemented where, and providing reasoned justifications on variations across the world.
  5. Be operational at each stage in the electoral process, from the months leading up to an election, through polling day, to the conclusion of the electoral process (whether weeks or months) following the vote. This means averting past mistakes where companies have rolled back measures only to facilitate post-election violence and the undemocratic actions of bad actors.

6. Be based on and implemented with local context and expertise. This means properly resourcing local staff and multi-stakeholder engagement, as well as larger and more linguistically and culturally competent content moderation teams to compensate for poor algorithmic performance outside of English. Ideally, platforms should coordinate to facilitate civil society dialogue with all relevant platforms rather than having separate conversations leading to differing standards.

7. Strengthen, increase and resource partnerships with fact-checkers, independent media, civil society and other    bodies that protect electoral integrity. Companies should engage with full respect for partners’ independence, report on the amount of meaningful engagement in a standardised format, and also collaborate with other companies to optimise investments in trust and safety and reporting.

8. Be independent of government and partisan political pressure. This means companies publishing all their contacts with governments, and all government requests to suppress speech and surveillance demands, where permitted by law. It means eliminating policy exemptions for politicians where this would allow them to undermine the electoral process or violate the rights of citizens. Politicians should not be exempted from policies that protect users, and political ads should be fact-checked.

9. Establish proper oversight and transparency. This means data access and training for researchers, civil society, independent media and election monitors to monitor activity on the platforms. It means re-investing in and opening up Crowdtangle at Meta, creating equivalent tools at Alphabet, and maintaining an open and free/affordable API at Twitter. It means full transparency and accuracy of ad libraries and their functionality (such as targeting parameters), as well as publication of financial information to enable scrutiny of campaign finance and spending. And it means transparency and independent audits on enforcement, including ad library error rates and algorithmic impact on harms. Companies should be transparent about their content moderation policies and enforcement, including notice, review and appeal mechanisms, reporting these in a standardised format.

10. Enable accountability. This means allowing documentation and archiving of all actual or potential harms taking place on the platforms as well as documentation to test the accuracy and effectiveness of harm mitigation measures, to enable real-time and post-facto accountability efforts.

This package of demands to Big tech companies can be coupled, dependent on context, to national or regional demands to governments and regulators (such as electoral bodies) in the framework of the campaign, advocated and advanced by coalition partners with a focus on government/institutional advocacy.