Protecting Democracy Online in 2024 and Beyond

Sep 14, 2023 | by
  • Description

In 2024, more than 2 billion voters across 50 countries—including in the United States, the European Union, and India—will head to the polls in a record-breaking number of elections around the world. Nearly a decade after social media was weaponized to influence election outcomes and with the technological advancements of today, such as generative artificial intelligence, poised to worsen or cause new problems, it is more prudent than ever that technology platforms and governments do everything in their power to safeguard elections and uphold democratic values online. The reality of today's technology and social media landscape paints a stark picture of platforms underprepared for the year ahead against a backdrop of unforeseen, novel challenges alongside known threats. Meanwhile, the prominent parent companies of many major social media platforms, known colloquially as Big Tech, have retreated from the election protection measures put in place in 2020 and initiated layoffs that have affected trust and safety teams across the industry, leaving them less prepared for a year of back-to-back and high-profile elections than perhaps ever before.

The Center for American Progress has previously published reports identifying major threats to digital democracy and recommending steps that social media companies should take to mitigate them—most recently in 2022, with "Social Media and the 2022 Midterm Elections: Anticipating Online Threats to Democratic Legitimacy." And earlier, in 2020, the report "Results Not Found: Addressing Social Media's Threat to Democratic Legitimacy and Public Safety After Election Day" anticipated post-election delegitimization and real-world violence, suggesting product approaches to reduce harm.

This new report specifically anticipates risks to and from the major social media platforms in the 2024 elections, continuing CAP's work to promote election integrity online and ensure free and fair elections globally. The report's recommendations incorporate learnings from past elections and introduce new ideas to encourage technology platforms to safeguard democratic processes and mitigate election threats. In a world without standardized global social media regulation, ensuring elections are safe, accessible, and protected online and offline will require key actions to be taken ahead of any votes being cast—both in 2024 and beyond.

Protecting Democracy Online in 2024 and Beyond