Recent election cycles have brought us painful examples of the power of online disinformation campaigns to suppress, manipulate and confuse voters while undermining public confidence in election results. From former-President Trump using targeted Facebook ads to dissuade Black Americans in swing states from voting, state lawmakers using disinformation to justify restrictive new voting laws, and the spread of the Big Lie to encourage distrust in the 2020 election, the corrosive impact of online disinformation on our democracy is clear.
That’s why Decode Democracy is launching a new Voter Empowerment Plan, a set of policy proposals to protect voters against the harms caused by online disinformation and safeguard our elections. Taken together, the proposals will empower voters, limit the impact of disinformation on American elections, and restore public confidence in election results. In less than a year, voters will be heading to the polls or mailing-in ballots for pivotal 2022 midterm elections. We simply can’t risk yet another year in which online disinformation suppresses, manipulates, and confuses voters while sowing distrust in election results. Specifically, lawmakers should begin by passing state and federal policies that:
- Reduce the quantity, spread, and impact of electoral disinformation;
- Increase the transparency of online election information and ads; and
- Elevate authoritative sources of electoral information.
The Voter Empowerment Plan features proposals from Decode Democracy along with solutions to fight online disinformation from allies including the Brennan Center, Free Press, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Verified Voting. Recommendations for policymakers include: requiring online platforms to report illegal activity; implementing criminal penalties for deceptive practices to intimidate voters; requiring social media data access for journalists, researchers, and the public; performing rigorous election audits; increasing funding for public investment in local journalism, and more. We’ve already seen how online disinformation and our lack of regulations can combine to push democracy to the brink of collapse. It’s time to demand lawmakers finally enact policies for more transparency and accountability online to protect elections.
Click here to review the Voter Empowerment Plan and encourage your member of Congress to advance critical new laws and policies to protect the 2022 elections.