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Holding digital media companies accountable

Published onFeb 28, 2020
Holding digital media companies accountable

With a new story in the news practically every day about bad behavior at some tech or media company, it may seem like these companies are just out of control and there’s nothing we can do about it.

But our voices and our decisions about using technology matter. We have important work to do in the next few years to keep companies accountable. We should vote with our feet when we can, leaving sites when their bad choices about data use or moderation outweigh the benefit we feel we’re getting from them. We should demand clear answers about what companies do with data that ultimately belongs to us—we produced it, it’s about us. And we should work with our elected officials to hold tech companies to higher standards. Here’s some ideas on how.

Getting started

One of the best places to follow and support campaigns to hold digital media accountable is the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Action Center. The EFF has longstanding campaigns on everything from surveillance to net neutrality.

Access Now runs a number of campaigns internationally, including calling on elected officials to take a stand on digital privacy and stop internet shutdowns.

Holding social media accountable

See the Keep Calm and Log On article about holding companies accountable for the “mystery meat” in their algorithms.

You can also sign the National Whistleblower Center’s petition to hold Facebook accountable for terror and hate content and ads that support illegal trafficking.

Public Citizen also runs campaigns around digital rights and corporate and advertising influence.

If you’re concerned with political manipulation

Concerned with how political parties and international interlopers may both be using your social media data to influence you? Check out Tactical Tech’s guide to using privacy techniques to keep from being targeted, or their other resources on data and politics.

If you’re concerned with discrimination

ColorOfChange runs media justice and tech justice campaigns to push media and tech companies to make the right decisions.

If you want to fight for the digital rights of kids and families

Check out these resources from Common Sense Media and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

If you want more accountability from news outlets

You can vote with your feet against corporate and advertising influence on the news. Look for news outlets where profit isn’t the motive.

If you happen to make apps or websites

There is so much you can do to make life better for others! Make use of the Center for Humane Technology’s Design Guide, and check out Gus’s guide to users with special needs in security and privacy.

For more background

To get a picture of how each company is doing in protecting your digital rights, it’s hard to do better than Ranking Digital Rights—they’ve read those long, annoying terms and conditions for you, and pre-digested them so they’re easier to understand and compare.

For more on how we got to this point in history, pick up a copy of Keep Calm and Log On.

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