What We Believe
A thriving democracy requires shared information everyone can trust — but our democracy has been hacked. Technology and social media companies spread disinformation for profit. Our online world is now full of conspiracy theories, hate speech, echo chambers, calls to violence, and lies.
So far, our lawmakers have failed to put in place the protections we need. That leaves us at the mercy of Big Tech CEOs who refuse to do the right thing. We can’t afford to continue down this path. It’s time to take back control and hold technology and social media companies responsible for their actions.
We believe social media companies need to be more accountable and more transparent. They need to protect our safety by stopping hate speech and harassment, and do a better job protecting our privacy. Together, we can demand better. We can reject deceit, defuse hate, and defend truth. We can decode democracy.
Irresponsible practices from big technology companies and a lack of government regulation have combined to give way to a disinformation crisis. Disinformation is often ignited by politicians, amplified by irresponsible media outlets, and reinforced by online influencers and activists that have weaponized social media to spread half-truths, lies, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. This rampant disinformation prevents progress, increases polarization, entrenches racial inequality, and even incites violence.
How did we get here? In its early years the internet made information more accessible and enhanced our democracy. But more recently, a toxic combination of technology companies that put profit ahead of the public interest and lawmakers failing to rein in their influence has led to disaster. Big Tech has amassed unprecedented amounts of our personal information, dictates what we see and hear online, and exerts an outsized impact on our democracy.
Most industries in the United States are regulated to ensure their products are not harmful and to mitigate unintended consequences. While technology platforms and the digital environment now sit at the center of our lives, lawmakers have failed to put controls in place to protect our democracy — relying instead on outdated laws unsuited to the moment. We have allowed technology and social media companies to put profit over people, and cash in on a system that spreads lies and deceit.
Social media companies won’t fix these problems on their own. We must put in place laws and regulations to fight online political deception. The integrity of our democracy and the future of our country is at stake.
We push for changes to public policy and to the behavior of technology and social media companies to create an online environment where democracy can thrive.
Our investigations, research, and data journalism expose new information about digital deception and pave the way for reforms.
We create software and online tools to empower communities, journalists, and researchers to counter the spread of false information online.