Year of Democracy: Protecting elections globally from Big Tech


In 2024, more than 2 billion people will be entitled to vote as over 65 elections are due to take place, in the biggest and most significant year for elections globally this century.

This will include some of the world’s largest democracies like the United States, the European Union, India, Mexico and Indonesia, countries in active democratic decline like Tunisia, in conflict such as Ethiopia and in active oppression of citizens’ freedoms such as Egypt. But the relentless spread of online disinformation, hate speech, abuse and manipulation threatens to undermine efforts to advance democracy and freedoms.

In June 2023, after a year of convening and strategising with partners across the world, we launched the Global Coalition for Tech Justice, ahead of our campaign the #yearofdemocracy.

What is the Global Coalition for Tech Justice?

The Global Coalition for Tech Justice is a global movement to ensure Big Tech plays its role in protecting elections and citizens’ rights and freedoms across the world, particularly in the global majority where companies – Meta/Facebook, Google/YouTube, Twitter, TikTok et al – have been negligent in dealing with the impacts of their social media and messaging products.

We’re launching a #yearofdemocracy campaign to catalyse a global movement – from civil society to national electoral commissions, legislators, activists and journalists – leveraging their power, influence and voice in favour of equitable and effective safeguards to protect democratic and human rights. Join us.

“Ad tech companies that are based in the US and Ireland are causing harm in every part of the world. We also know they’ve started to take some action especially on the things that end up in the press - but mitigation and accountability don’t seem to be reaching beyond a handful of wealthy, mostly English-speaking countries. ”

Participant in Digital Action’s roundtable June 2022

Why did we create this coalition and campaign?

Since starting in 2019, Digital Action has gained a unique vantage point on the startling inequity that exists between regions when it comes to protections from harm by tech platforms – from disinformation, hate and incitement to manipulation of democratic processes. We have seen that tech companies headquartered in the global north – and the regulators responsible for them – are negligent when it comes to dealing with the impact of tech on the global majority.

That is why in spring 2022 we refined our strategic focus to build an ambitious three year campaign plan with a global network of partners. We tested the appetite for such a campaign with civil society organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, Europe and the USA.

When it comes to the widespread use and impact of social media across the world, 2024 will be the make-or-break year for democracy globally and a test for ad tech companies’ readiness to support free and fair elections. It is a potent moment of reckoning for tech companies.

How did we build the campaign?

This campaign is built around a theory of change that media and elite pressure in the US and EU can lead to increases in platform investments outside of those regions. It also aims to shape a cohesive global narrative and movement around which the next wave of globally impactful governance frameworks and enforcement is built.

To shape the campaign, we engaged with over 60 civil society organisations, experts and stakeholders worldwide, and 66% of our campaign working group were from global majority countries. We gathered evidence about how disinformation spread on Big Tech platforms affected in elections. We co-created campaign asks. And we launched our Global Coalition for Tech Justice at RightsCon, the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age.

Read more about our approach to building this campaign.

Who is involved?

The coalition is led by a Steering Group which includes representatives from:

  • Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
  • Digital Citizenship
  • The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
  •  India Civil Watch International
  • Common Cause India
  • Legal Resources Centre
  • Avaaz
  • Conscious Ad Network
  • Pollicy
  • Inform Africa

Digital Action is the coalition convenor and organiser.

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