Non-profit

Accountable Tech

Website:

accountabletech.org/

Executive Director:

Nicole Gill

Formation:

2020

Type:

Online speech regulation advocate

Accountable Tech is a left-of-center advocate for restrictions on free speech on online platforms. The group was created as a fiscally sponsored project of the North Fund, which is part of the advocacy nonprofit network managed by Arabella Advisors. [1]

Accountable Tech is notable for rallying major advertisers against Elon Musk after he offered to purchase Twitter in 2022.

Accountable Tech since joined Onward Together, Hillary Clinton’s political advocacy group established after her defeat in the 2016 presidential election. [2] Co-founder Jesse Lehrich is a former spokesman for Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign.

Campaigns

Surveillance Advertising

Accountable Tech seeks to outlaw “surveillance advertising,” or the practice of monitoring the preferences of users of digital platforms to implement targeted advertising. The group claims that the practice “[damages] the information ecosystem by starving the traditional news industry, especially local journalism.” [3]

Big Tech Monopolies

Accountable Tech supports hindering large tech companies with anti-trust regulation bills, including the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open App Markets Act. [4]  

California Age-Appropriate Design Code Bill

Accountable Tech supports the California Age-Appropriate Design Bill, a bill in the California Assembly which would require tech companies to design apps with settings for children and prohibit collecting information on individuals under 18. [5]

Stopping Facebook Group Recommendations

During the 2020 election, Accountable Tech ran a campaign urging Facebook to shut down the algorithm on its site which makes recommendations to users to join Facebook groups. Accountable Tech cites research from within Facebook which indicates that these groups are “hidden breeding grounds for disinformation campaigns and organizing platforms for extremists.” [6]

Disinformation

After the election of President Joe Biden, Accountable Tech issued an open letter asking his administration to treat “disinformation” as an “intersectional threat” particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, “climate denialism,” voter suppression, threats against women, and attempts to “thwart police reform.” [7]

Elon Musk and Twitter

In April 2022, billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk made an offer to purchase Twitter for $44 billion. Musk, who was already Twitter’s largest shareholder, prompted a backlash from left-of-center advocacy groups, commentators, and Twitter employees who opposed Musk’s political ideology and potential influence on Twitter’s operations, particularly his outspoken support for free speech which allegedly threatened to limit moderation and anti-hate speech measures on the digital platform. [8]

After the offer, Accountable Tech and the left-wing groups Media Matters for America, and UltraViolet published an open letter to Twitter’s advertisers urging a boycott if Musk bought Twitter. The letter stated:

“Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will further toxify our information ecosystem and be a direct threat to public safety, especially among those already most vulnerable and marginalized… Musk intends to [steamroll safeguards] and provide a megaphone to extremists who traffic in disinformation, hate, and harassment. Under the guise of ‘free speech,’ his vision will silence and endanger marginalized communities, and tear at the fraying fabric of democracy.” [9]

The open letter asked that the advertisers demand that Twitter maintain account bans in accordance with its current “hateful conduct policy,” “commit to depolarizing the platform,” and continue the platform’s level of transparency. [10]

The open letter was signed by many left-of-center advocacy groups, including the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Women’s March. [11]

On May 3, Musk shared a CNN article on Twitter that mentioned the letter and asked: “Who funds these organizations that want to control your access to information? Let’s investigate …” He followed up with: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” [12]

Leadership

Nicole Gill

Accountable Tech co-founder and executive director Nicole Gill previously led numerous campaigns on left-wing issues. From 2018-2019, Gill was a senior advisor and then director of strategic communications and external affairs for Pathfinder International, a left-of-center birth control and population control group. From 2017-2018, she was the executive director of Tax March, a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund that campaigns for tax increases. From 2016-2018, Gill worked as campaign director for the Hub Project, another Sixteen Thirty Fund project. From 2010-2016, Gill climbed the ranks at SKDKnickerbocker, a political consulting group that primarily supports Democratic candidates and liberal causes. [13]

Jesse Lehrich

Co-founder and senior advisor Jesse Lehrich served as foreign policy spokesman for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign after being an unpaid volunteer for a year. During a debate between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump, Trump suggested that U.S. soldier Captain Humayun Khan would not have died fighting in Iraq if Trump had been president in 2004, prompting Lehrich to Tweet an insult at Trump. Lehrich apologized soon afterward and deleted the Tweet. [14]

Prior to Secretary Clinton’s campaign, Lehrich worked as a deputy communications director at American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic Super PAC, as assistant press secretary for Organizing for Action, a Democratic advocacy group, and as a media buying intern for GMMB Consulting. [15]

Lehrich also volunteered for then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s (D-IL) 2008 presidential campaign. [16]

References

  1. Screenshot Archived Here: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2022/05/North-Fund-Trade-Names.pdf. Accessed May 23, 2022. ^
  2. “Statement on Joining Onward Together.” Accountable Tech. December 18, 2020. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/media/statement-on-joining-onward-together/. ^
  3. “Ban Surveillance Advertising.” Accountable Tech. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/campaign/ban-surveillance-advertising/. ^
  4. “Reign in Big Tech’s Monopoly Power.” Accountable Tech. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/campaign/reining-in-big-techs-monopoly-power/. ^
  5.  Support the California Age Appropriate Design Code.” Accountable Tech. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/campaign/letter-of-support-for-the-california-age-appropriate-design-code/. ^
  6. “Tell Facebook: Stop All Group Recommendations.” Accountable Tech. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/campaign/stop-group-recs/ ^
  7. “Open Letter to the Biden-Harris Administration.” Accountable Tech. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/campaign/open-letter/. ^
  8. Feiner, Lauren. “Musks’s Twitter deal faces backlash from advocacy groups that are seeking to block it.” CNBC. June 3, 2022. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/03/musks-twitter-deal-faces-backlash-from-advocacy-groups.html. ^
  9. “to whom it may concern.” Accountable Tech. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/wp-content/uploads/Letter-to-Twitter-Advertisers.pdf. ^
  10. “to whom it may concern.” Accountable Tech. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/wp-content/uploads/Letter-to-Twitter-Advertisers.pdf. ^
  11. “to whom it may concern.” Accountable Tech. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://accountabletech.org/wp-content/uploads/Letter-to-Twitter-Advertisers.pdf. ^
  12. “Elon Musk.” Twitter. May 3, 2022. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1521574041814978562?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw. ^
  13. “Nicole Gill.” LinkedIn. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolelgill/. ^
  14. Daniel S. Levine. “Jessie Lehrich: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.” Heavy. October 10, 2016. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://heavy.com/news/2016/10/jesse-lehrich-who-is-hillary-clinton-foreign-policy-spokesman-donald-trump-bio-twitter-aide-khan-campaign-said-go-fk-yourself/. ^
  15. “Hillary for America.” P2016. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://www.p2016.org/clinton/clintonorg.html. ^
  16. Daniel S. Levine. “Jessie Lehrich: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.” Heavy. October 10, 2016. Accessed August 27, 2022. https://heavy.com/news/2016/10/jesse-lehrich-who-is-hillary-clinton-foreign-policy-spokesman-donald-trump-bio-twitter-aide-khan-campaign-said-go-fk-yourself/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Nicole Gill
    Executive Director
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