Elections and Media

A look at the various media used to reach and inform voters during elections -- as well as the impact of new media and media ownership on elections.

Technology, tribalism, and truth

The internet was supposed to be the great gift to democracy because everyone would be free to express themselves without the interference of editors or other filters. Instead, the business model of the internet—collecting and manipulating personal information to sell targeting services—has created the tool for attacking the democratic imperative to seek Unum. Our foreign adversaries have proven especially talented in exploiting this capability.


Institute for Technology Law & Policy

Georgetown Law

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 15:00 to 23:00

Advances in technology are transforming how people across the globe engage with democracy. Opportunities for engagement and participation are expanding, but recent events highlight new threats to the integrity of democratic elections in a networked era.

As we enter the 2020 primary season, join journalists, political scientists, technologists, voting rights advocates, election law scholars, and regulators to explore these pressing issues.

8:30 AM     Breakfast & Registration

9:00 AM     Welcome 

Campaign Reformers Push Back on NAB Political Ad Ask

Campaign reform groups are telling the Federal Communications Commission to reject broadcasters' petition to 'clarify' the FCC's disclosure requirements for third-party political ads and follow the National Association of Broadcasters' "rationally tailored approach." NAB and others asked the FCC to narrow its definition of non-candidate ads on “any political matter of national importance" (i.e.

Sen Warren Warren issues new disinformation pledge, promising to hold Facebook, Google and Twitter responsible

Democratic presidential candidate Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pledged that her campaign would not share falsehoods or promote fraudulent accounts on social media, part of a new plan to battle back disinformation and hold Facebook, Google and Twitter “responsible” for its spread.

Trump campaign runs hundreds of misleading Facebook ads warning of Super Bowl censorship

President Donald Trump's reelection campaign has run more than 200 misleading political advertisements on Facebook in the past day claiming the "Fake News media" will attempt to block the campaign's upcoming Super Bowl ad — despite federal regulations that require the TV spot be aired.

US Media Polarization and the 2020 Election: A Nation Divided

A new Pew Research Center report finds that Republicans and Democrats place their trust in two nearly inverse news media environments. Overall, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents view many heavily relied on sources across a range of platforms as untrustworthy. At the same time, Democrats and independents who lean Democratic see most of those sources as credible and rely on them to a far greater degree. Evidence suggests that partisan polarization in the use and trust of media sources has widened in the past five years.

How the 2020 Elections Could Shape Communications Policy

If Democrats are able to wrest control of the White House and Senate in November, dramatic changes could come to the Federal Communications Commission and US communications policy. Net neutrality would be the major issue revisited. A Democratic-controlled FCC might seek to re-establish a role for the FCC in ISP privacy regulation, especially if Congress does not enact a federal consumer privacy law covering ISPs.

[Ari Fitzgerald is a partner at Hogan Lovells]

Democratic candidates tout rural broadband infrastructure goals

The leading Democratic presidential candidates are all calling for major increases in spending for roads, bridges, rural broadband and other infrastructure needs, but they'll need large increases in tax revenue to pay for their plans. The Democrats' plans rely far less heavily than private investment than President Donald Trump would, as President Trump's 2018 budget proposed spending $200 billion “to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with partners at the State, local, Tribal, and private level.” President Trump hasn't pursued the plan with Congress.

At the heart of Facebook’s rocky public position is the scale of its own power

By the end of the 2014 election, campaigns and political committees had directly spent about $8 million on Facebook advertising, less than half the amount they’d spent on Google. Through September of 2019, that figure neared $46 million, 50 percent more than what Google took in. And that’s only direct spending, excluding spending by political consultants on behalf of candidates or campaigns. In the 2016 campaign alone, Donald Trump’s team spent somewhere around $70 million on Facebook through a digital firm run by Brad Parscale, who is now Trump’s campaign manager. 

Twitter’s ban on political advertisements hurts our democracy

Twitter recently announced that it will no longer allow political advertisements on its digital platform. Implementation of this decision, if possible at all, will have dire consequences for American democracy. Defining a political advertisement is nearly impossible. And social media helps under-funded candidates. And Twitter's ban will not eliminate disinformation.