Technology platforms are now a major component of how Americans experience campaigns and elections. Yet a role that seems ubiquitous today has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Those changes in the past may presage what to expect in the future – and policymakers around the world have a lot to consider.
In the early days of social media — from MySpace, Friendster, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter — candidates were apprehensive about using online tools for voter outreach. That did not stop many companies from actively courting candidates to use their platforms; the companies were also quick to promote how they were being used for political and civic communications.
The companies soon added additional features intended to promote civic engagement. They built tools to help Americans register to vote and to simply identify where they could cast a ballot on Election Day. Some companies even sponsored debates and hosted government officials on their campuses. Much of the elections-focused work, though, shifted towards integrity efforts after the 2016 election when misinformation and foreign interference became household terms. Technology companies started to launch products and policies to bring more transparency to online advertising, fight abuse, combat mis- and disinformation, increase digital literacy, and work with partners around the globe to help identify other ways their platforms might be abused and harm the democratic process. They also continued to build out tools to boost authoritative information about the election process.
The Bipartisan Policy Center, in partnership with the Integrity Institute, now hosts the filterable Technology Platforms Election Database, which contains information from nearly 50 companies about their work on elections across the globe over the past 20 years. The data goes back to 2003 and will continuously be updated. Every entry has a column for the date it was added. Our hope is that the database can be used to study tech companies’ efforts around elections in pursuit of workable products, policies, and partnerships for future challenges to come. You can access the database here.
Our intention is to continually update this database and add additional fields over time such as specific keywords and topics that each link covers. Later this fall, we will also release an analysis of how the various companies’ work has evolved in this space. If you see any information that is missing or incorrect, please contact us at [email protected] or [email protected]
Note: some fields such as dates might be empty if that specific information was not provided in the source
Support Research Like This
With your support, BPC can continue to fund important research like this by combining the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans.Donate Now