Non-profit

Advance Democracy

Advance Democracy Inc. is a nonprofit investigative organization that conducts investigations around the world to improve accountability, transparency, and good governance, often on behalf of liberal internationalist ideological interests. The organization is run by Daniel J. Jones who is best known for his work as a U.S. Senate investigator into allegations of torture conducted by the U.S. government after 9/11.

The organization has conducted investigations into Russian interference of European Parliament elections in 2019 and has also investigated the messaging of populist parties and organizations in that election as well. The organization has also investigated the dissemination of the QAnon conspiracy theory and social media messaging in the 2020 U.S. Presidential elections.

Among the donors to Advance Democracy Inc. is the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a left-leaning foundation that is funded by the some of the biggest names in the technology industry and Silicon Valley. [1]

Overview

Daniel J. Jones is a former Teach for America alum who joined the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence under then-Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as an investigator after completing his master’s degree in policy and working for the FBI for four years as an investigator. Jones is most famous for his work leading a seven-year investigation into allegations of torture by the U.S. government after 9/11. He published a report in December 2014 that detailed acts of torture committed by the CIA. [2]

After leaving the U.S. Senate, Jones founded Advance Democracy Inc. in January 2018, four days after Jones was identified as a partner of Fusion GPS and its investigation of the Trump-Russia collusion claims. [3]

2019 European Parliament Elections

In 2019, Advance Democracy Inc. investigated the alleged interference by Russia in the European Parliament elections. The organization alleged that Russia was using social media to spread false and misleading stories about the European Union, NATO, and immigrants. It also accused the network of social media accounts of spreading conspiracy theories. Finally, it alleged that far-right and far-left populist groups were echoing alleged Russian disinformation in their own political messaging. [4]

“The goal [of Russia] here is bigger than any one election,” said Jones to the New York Times “It is to constantly divide, increase distrust and undermine our faith in institutions and democracy itself. They’re working to destroy everything that was built post-World War II.” [5]

Advance Democracy notified European authorities about the suspicious social media accounts and pages that it had uncovered. It believed the Russians’ goal was to sow discord and chaos, not to back and specific candidates or parties. [6]

Investigating QAnon

In 2020, Advance Democracy investigated the conspiracy theory “QAnon” and its believers in spreading misinformation about the 2020 U.S. presidential election. It found that 1 in 50 tweets about the election were spread by alleged QAnon accounts. It also alleged that 2 in every 25 tweets with the hashtag #voterfraud originated from “QAnon” accounts. [7]

Advance Democracy called on Twitter and other social media companies to do more to combat QAnon-related content and accounts.  “I hope this is a wake-up call for those doubting the breadth and depth of QAnon-related activity on social media,” said Jones to NBC News. [8]

Financials

According to the 2018 Form 990, Advance Democracy raised $2.9 million and spent $2.8 million. [9]

In 2018, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation gave Advance Democracy $500,000. [10]

References

  1.   Ross, Chuck. 2019. “Charity Backed By Silicon Valley Tech Titans Gave $500K To Fusion GPS-Linked Group”. Daily Caller News Foundation. https://dailycaller.com/2019/03/13/silicon-valley-charity-fusion-gps-trump/. ^
  2. Fabel, Leah. 2019. “Nine Tips On How To Uncover Even Terrible Truths”. Teach For America.  https://www.teachforamerica.org/stories/nine-tips-on-how-to-uncover-even-terrible-truths. ^
  3. Ross, Chuck. 2019. “Charity Backed By Silicon Valley Tech Titans Gave $500K To Fusion GPS-Linked Group”. Daily Caller News Foundation. https://dailycaller.com/2019/03/13/silicon-valley-charity-fusion-gps-trump/. ^
  4. Apuzzo, Matt, and Adam Satariano. 2019. “Russia Is Targeting Europe’s Elections. So Are Far-Right Copycats. (Published 2019)”. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/world/europe/russian-propaganda-influence-campaign-european-elections-far-right.html. ^
  5.   Apuzzo, Matt, and Adam Satariano. 2019. “Russia Is Targeting Europe’S Elections. So Are Far-Right Copycats. (Published 2019)”. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/world/europe/russian-propaganda-influence-campaign-european-elections-far-right.html. ^
  6. Apuzzo, Matt, and Adam Satariano. 2019. “Russia Is Targeting Europe’S Elections. So Are Far-Right Copycats. (Published 2019)”. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/world/europe/russian-propaganda-influence-campaign-european-elections-far-right.html. ^
  7. Collins, Ben. 2020. “Qanon Accounts Make A Dent In Voting Discussion On Twitter”. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanon-accounts-make-dent-voting-discussion-twitter-n1243748. ^
  8. Collins, Ben. 2020. “Qanon Accounts Make A Dent In Voting Discussion On Twitter”. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanon-accounts-make-dent-voting-discussion-twitter-n1243748. ^
  9. Form 990. 2018. Ebook. Guidestar. https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2018/824/277/2018-824277642-17125600-9.pdf. ^
  10.   Ross, Chuck. 2019. “Charity Backed By Silicon Valley Tech Titans Gave $500K To Fusion GPS-Linked Group”. Daily Caller News Foundation. https://dailycaller.com/2019/03/13/silicon-valley-charity-fusion-gps-trump/. ^
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