Ballot Bots, Advertiser Activism, Real Newsfeed

This post is an edition of the T/I/P/Sheet, Mobilize’s bi-weekly email newsletter featuring insights and opportunities at the nexus of Technology, Impact and Politics. To subscribe and receive future editions, click here.

Mobilize Memo /// We promised a bi-weekly newsletter, but it’s been more than a month since we sent our last edition. Chalk it up as a broken campaign promise, but we have had a busy couple of weeks. We worked with some of the nation’s largest progressive organizations to launch The People’s Defense campaign to stop Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. More than one million Americans spoke out, thousands attended People’s Filibuster events across the country, and Neil Gorsuch failed to reach the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees. Republican Senators are now threatening to use the “nuclear option” to push Gorsuch through. We are also working with leading organizations on the Tax March to encourage President Trump to follow his predecessors and a long history of transparency and release his tax returns. More than 140 Tax March events are scheduled on April 15th across the country and around the world. We’re also working on a campaign to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and encourage individuals who have been touched by the disease to share their stories and tell leaders in Washington It’s About Time to make Alzheimer’s disease a top healthcare priority. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, there are 15 million caregivers supporting them, and we’ve gone nearly 15 years with no new treatments. It is certainly about time for progress. We’re thrilled to play a small role in these efforts and many more, and hope you’ll check out and support these campaigns.

Robot Resistance /// Launched by entrepreneur and author Eric Reis, Resistbot is making it incredibly easy for users to contact their representatives. The AI product asks users for their name, location, and message, then sends their response via fax to their representatives in Washington. Text Resist to 50409 to give it a try. Campaigns looking to build their own AI bots can leverage IBM Watson’s technology to rather easily develop their own products in just a few hours.

Resisting Robots /// From targeting advertisements to powering digital assistants, artificial intelligence is fueling many of the technologies we use daily. But one of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs and technologists, Elon Musk, continues to be concerned about the destructive might and speed of innovation in AI. In an April profile in Vanity Fair by Maureen Dowd, Musk discusses his effort with Sam Altman of Y-Combinator to launch a billion-dollar nonprofit company called OpenAI to work towards safer artificial intelligence. One of his main concerns is the concentration of powerful AI experts and products in the hands of established technology companies and governments. Separately, the World Economic Forum has launched the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to explore the policies and frameworks needed to address ethical and economic issues in advances of technologies like AI and the internet of things (IoT).

Ballot Bots /// Google and Jigsaw (the think/do tank within Alphabet) announced “Protect Your Election” — a package of cybersecurity tools to support independent news reporting, activists and human rights organizations that facilitate fair, independent elections. As evidenced last year, even an established democracy like the United States is susceptible to digital attacks that destabilize the democratic process. In one example of this digital disruption, see how a pro-Trump bot based in Utah influences the conversation and spread of information on Twitter, most recently this past Monday with the stories on Susan Rice.

The Data Race to the White House /// The Democratic and Republican parties continue to compete to develop new digital tools and data files to sharpen their targeting and tactics. Axios created a timeline of some of the major innovations in each party’s digital prowess, from the launch of progressive data firm Catalist to the RNC’s prioritization of data following their 2012 loss.

Advertiser Activism /// Twenty-one companies have pulled advertising from The O’Reilly Factor following the disclosure of sexual-harassment allegations against the host. A similar boycott led to the end of Glenn Beck’s popular Fox program in 2011. In a separate story, Google has ramped up efforts to flag and remove offensive content from YouTube after a series of large brands pulled their ads off the platform concerned about their campaigns appearing side-by-side with videos promoting hate, racism and violence. Meanwhile, advertising agencies are harnessing their creative talent to push for political and social change, including a “I pee with L.G.B.T.” campaign opposing a bill in Texas on transgender bathroom use, to empower female entrepreneurs, and “Put Her on the Map” to draw attention to the lack of landmarks that recognize the achievement of women leaders.

Real Newsfeed /// Pierre Omidyar is contributing $100 million to support independent journalism and fight fake news and hate speech. Relatedly, Facebook and third parties launched a fact-checking product to alert users when a story might be false or a piece of “disputed content.” The platform was widely ridiculed during the election as fake news articles spread rapidly across the social network, sometimes even surpassing the reach of credible outlets. Facebook also introduced a tool called Town Hall which makes it easy for users to find and contact their representatives as all levels of government. It’s an incredibly useful and frictionless product for individuals looking to find their elected officials, but similarly to some of the challenges with the Facebook Events product, organizations seeking data on the actions of their supporters will likely continue to engage their members through their own websites and proprietary tools.

🙁 /// Bitmoji is the fastest-growing app in America, seeing a more than 5,000% spike in monthly unique visitors. Organizations thinking about developing their own mobile apps should be wary, as comScore reported last year we have hit “peak app” usage, with many smartphone users downloading zero to one new apps each month. Though perhaps Bitmojis of elected officials could improve Millennial turnout in mid-term elections.

Clips Worth Clicking /// Dennis McDonough joins Ezra Klein on his podcast to discuss how government works. Kara Swisher interviews the CEO of Tipping Point Community on how the Silicon Valley can fight homelessness. Jamie Dimon’s outlines national and global risks in his annual letter (PDF) to JPMorgan shareholders. President Clinton reflects on the importance of finding reconciliation in the pursuit of a shared future.

Upcoming Events /// Organizing 2.0 conference on April 7th-8th in NYC. “Plastic Oceans: A Screening with HBO’s VICE at Lincoln Center” on April 12thin NYC. More than 140 Tax March events on April 15th. NegGain Internet of Things conference on April 21st in NYC.


Coordinator, Government Programs /// General Assembly /// NYC
Public Policy Manager, External Affairs /// Facebook /// DC
Director, Digital Advocacy and Communications /// Motion Picture Association of America /// DC
Digital Content Manager /// New American Economy /// NYC
Associate, Business Development and Government Affairs /// Tesla /// Palo Alto
Social Media Manager /// Everytown for Gun Safety /// NYC
Snapchat Editor /// The New York Times /// NYC
Politics Director /// The Huffington Post /// DC
Associate Strategy Officer /// Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation /// Seattle
Social Media Community and Growth Manager /// UNICEF /// NYC
Content Lead /// Virgin Management /// London