Event Recaps

Experts Agree: Big Tech is failing our elections and those who run them

From slashing platform safeguards, dismantling trust and safety teams, and sunsetting crucial monitoring tools, Big Tech’s actions are failing our elections and those who run them.

This month, a panel of experts discussed how online platforms have become arenas for disinformation, distrust, and real-world harm. At the frontlines are election officials who are bearing the brunt and having to correct a deluge of false information, working to provide voters with accurate information despite threats to their safety.

The panel, moderated by Issue One’s Director of Election Protection Dr. Carah Ong Whaley, included:

  • Cisco Aguilar: Nevada Secretary of State
  • Jiore Craig: Senior Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD)
  • Kim Wyman: Former Washington Secretary of State

The speakers outlined how Big Tech’s lack of compliance and accountability has created a dangerous chilling effect on researchers. A degraded information environment risks democratic backsliding, as election workers, voters, and legislators experience intimidation, fatigue, and unparalleled levels of distrust online. The speakers also discussed how the pending Supreme Court decision on Murthy v. Missouri may impact the ability of government and non-government entities to address false information spread on platforms.


One of the key themes of the discussion was how foreign influence operations have proliferated since 2016 and continue to spread distrust on social media. Former Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, explained how foreign adversaries have created hundreds of fake local news websites and bot armies to amplify mis-, dis-, and malinformation. The panel warned that similar tactics are being employed for the upcoming U.S. presidential election with crippling consequences, as election officials come under harassment because of the misleading information.

The speakers also considered the impact of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and the role that chatbots and Large Language Models (LLM) play in facilitating the spread of election disinformation. During the discussion, Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar described an important instance of real-world consequences. Recently, his team asked five different LLMs about how voters could register in the upcoming election. The chatbots falsely responded that voters would need to register “three weeks in advance,” despite same-day registration being an available option. Secretary Aguilar warned that first-time voters could become confused by the competing information, mistakenly believe that they missed the deadline to vote, and subsequently share the fake news online causing others to believe the same. Due to tech companies’ lack of safeguards, new voters could be disenfranchised from our democracy.

The conversation also touched on what platforms and election workers could do to protect the information environment. Jiore Craig, senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, emphasized that platforms need to make data accessible for researchers and civil society organizers who have historically worked to hold Big Tech companies accountable. Additionally, there was broad support for encouraging trusted reporting from traditional news sources, urging tech companies to implement safeguards, and driving community engagement to help voters trust in the election process.

The consensus is clear: Big Tech is failing to do their part in safeguarding U.S. elections. Action from Big Tech and the government is needed to protect voters and election workers on the frontline. Watch the full event recording.