The tech/election stories you might have missed this week
Plus some more thoughts on Musk/Twitter
When I woke up this morning I really wanted to write about the Twitter layoffs. I was angry. I was reliving some past experiences that weren’t exactly the same but brought up many of the same feelings. I was - and still am - pissed that Musk treated people in this way.
Layoffs, reorgs, and other changes to our jobs are hard in the best of times. But there’s a way to do so with integrity and empathy. Look at how the leaders of Stripe took responsibility and tried to do their best for those they were letting go. At the very least they signed their names to it.
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Twitter folks got very little of that.
That said, there’s been so much great coverage of this unfolding story by folks like Casey Newton, Kurt Wagner, Alex Heath, Lizza Dwoskin, Rebecca Kern, Alex Levine, Will Oremus, Ryan Mac, Alex Kantrowitz, Mike Masnick and so many others that I encourage you to check out their stuff rather than me rehash anything. I put some of my favorite stories in the what I’m reading section below.
If I can be of help to anyone who has been laid off, is grappling if you want to stay, or just aren’t sure what to do please do let me know. If you are a trust and safety professional the TSPA has some great resources and at the Integrity Institute, we are looking at ways we can help folks get on their feet too. If you aren’t a member of either of these orgs look at signing up. Having that community available after I left Facebook has meant so much to me.
Rather than adding to the Twitter pile-on, I figured that I would highlight some of the stories you might have missed this week as you were watching the chaos unfold. Especially since we are coming out of the Brazil election and going into the U.S. midterms.
(Ok, one more thing on Twitter) - When it comes to the elections I am concerned. Yoel Roth, the head of safety and integrity at the company, just tweeted out a thread about how the layoffs affected their trust and safety org and what they are still doing ahead of the midterms. It’s worth reading and kudos to them for at least addressing the concerns. We’ll really just have to wait and see if it’s enough.
But, Twitter is not the only tech platform on the block when it comes to the midterms and I am worried that we might be taking our eye off the ball on where some of the nefarious activity might come from over the coming days.
The New York Times has been doing a good job covering what’s happening on some of the other platforms such as how hunting for voter fraud has become a game on Telegram. Or that worries are growing that TikTok is becoming the new home for manipulated video and photos. They also have a great story about how campaigns are using paid influencers to get around some ad bans and other disclosures.
Bloomberg took a look at why candidates keep pushing election denialism online - because it works. And Mark Scott at Politico wrote about how stolen election theories are already spreading. The Washington Post covered how China-based accounts were taken down that were trying to stoke division.
There’s also the question of the role that small-dollar fundraising has played in creating extreme candidates. I loved this podcast between Tim Miller and Micah Sifry debating that very topic.
Over at the Bipartisan Policy Center, we released the results of an interesting survey that shows who Americans turn to for election-related information. My main takeaways are how different 18-44-year-olds get their information (search and social - especially TikTok) versus those over 45 (search, national and local news). The fact that Republicans don’t seem to trust anyone is also concerning. But read the whole thing. Lots of good nuggets in there. The most promising is that people still trust their state and local election officials.
And, let’s not forget that none of the streaming platforms have ad transparency databases, that text message spam remains a thing and even good old-fashioned email. I’m sure I’m missing some things, but lots in the links section below.
Two last things I found interesting this week.
First, two alternative right-leaning platforms are pushing back against governments and regulators that I’m keeping an eye on. Jason Miller of Gettr announced that they are appealing a ruling by the Brazilian election commission to block Carla Zambelli - a member of the Chamber of Deputies (basically like our House of Representatives).
And, Rumble decided to pull out of France because the government demanded that they remove certain Russian news sources. I find this one particularly interesting because I think it’s one of the first times I’ve seen a platform pull out of a developed country like France because they didn’t like the government’s actions.
Second, is that I had a great conversation with some of my former Meta colleagues on Twitter about the right way to be using words like misinformation, disinformation, malinformation, etc. I’ve found myself being lazy and saying misdisinformation too much and so I asked what I should be using instead. They gave me some good tips.
Overall, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and buckle up because things are only going to get crazier. It’s one thing to know the crazy is coming, but it’s another to live through it. Trump is rumored to be announcing for 2024 on November 14th and who knows what post-election day will bring. Regardless, there will be no breaks.
What I’m Reading
Washington Post: Musk meeting with civil rights groups upsets his fans
New York Times: Truth Social’s Influence Grows Despite Its Business Problems
Tech Policy Press: Examining Programmatic Political Advertising in the United States
Washington Post: MAGA porn, hate for Trump: China-based accounts stoke division
Integrity Institute: Election Misinformation Amplification
Bipartisan Policy Center: Independent State Legislature Theory Undermines Elections Principles
Bipartisan Policy Center: New Survey Data on Who Americans Look to For Election Information
Election Integrity Partnership: Rumors, Conspiracy Theories, and Unsubstantiated Claims About Voting: What to Expect on and After Election Day 2022
Election Integrity Partnership: Assessing Inauthentic Networks Commenting on the US Midterms
German Marshall Fund: Not Just Dance Videos: How Candidates are Using TikTok in the US Midterms
Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy: Data Skills for Congress
Newly added: November 28-30 - Knight Foundation: INFORMED: Conversations on Democracy in the Digital Age (Only virtual seats available)
Topics to keep an eye on that have a general timeframe of the first half of the year:
Facebook 2020 election research
Oversight Board opinion on cross-check
Senate & House hearings, markups, and potential votes
Second Summit of Democracy
November 1 - 2: Frontiers of Digital Development Forum
November 1: Israel Election
November 1: Denmark Election
November 4: Workshop on technology, trust, and coordination
November 8: United States Midterms
November 12, 2022 - Bahrain
November 17: Obama Foundation Democracy Forum
November 19, 2022 - Malaysia Election
November 20, 2022 - Equatorial Guinea Election
November 20, 2022 - Kazakhstan Election
November 20, 2022 - Nepal Election
November 28-30 - Knight Foundation: INFORMED: Conversations on Democracy in the Digital Age (Only virtual seats available)
November 2022 - Fiji Election
December 6, 2022 - BPC 2022 Election Summit
December 17, 2022 - Tunisia Election
2022 TBD - Libya Election
January 2023 - Czech Republic Election
January 7: Meta/Trump Decision
February 5, 2023 - Cyprus Election
February 16, 2023 - Platforms have to announce EU numbers to comply with DSA
February 23, 2023 - Nigeria Election
February 2023 - Djibouti Election
February 2023 - Monaco Election
March 5, 2023 - Estonia Election
March 10 - 19: SXSW
March 20 - 24, 2023: Mozilla Fest
March 2023 - Antigua and Barbuda Election
March 2023 - Federated States of Micronesia Election
March 2023 - Guinea Bissau Election
March 2023 - Sierra Leone Election
April 30, 2023 - Benin Election
April 30, 2023 - Paraguay Election
April 2023 - Andorra Election
April 2023 - Finland Election
April 2023 - Montenegro Election
May 7, 2023 - Thailand Election
May 15-16: Copenhagen Democracy Summit
June 5-9: RightsCon
June 25, 2023 - Guatemala Election
June 25, 2023 -Turkey Election
July 2023 - Cambodia Election
July 2023 - Timor-Leste Election
July 2023 - Zimbabwe Election
August 6, 2023 - Greece Election
August 2023 - Eswatini Election
September 2023 - Mauritania Election
October 10, 2023 - Liberia Election
October 12, 2023 - Pakistan Election
October 22, 2023 - Switzerland Election
October 2023 - Argentina Election
October 2023 - Luxembourg Election
October 2023 - Oman Election
November 12, 2023 - Poland Election
November 20, 2023 - Marshall Islands Election
November 29, 2023 - Ukraine Election
November 2023 - Bhutan Election
November 2023 - Gabon Election
November 2023 - Rwanda Election
December 10, 2023 - Spain Election
December 2023 - Bangladesh Election
December 2023 - Democratic Republic of the Congo Election
December 2023 - Togo Election
TBD - Belarus Election
TBD - Cuba Election
TBD - Equatorial Guinea Election
TBD - Gabon Election
TBD - Guinea Election
TBD - Madagascar Election
TBD - Maldives Election
TBD - Myanmar Election
TBD - Singapore Election
TBD - South Sudan Election - (Unlikely to happen)
TBD - Turkmenistan Election
TBD - Tuvalu
TBD - Haiti
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