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UNMASKED: New Tool Shows Twitter Users Who’s in Bed with Big Tech

A Simple Browser Extension Brings Silicon Valley Out of the Shadows


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Key Points


Finally – a little transparency in your Twitter feed.

The American Principles Project (APP) has partnered with BigTechFunding.org to design a new browser extension that will help Twitter users identify who’s affiliated with tech beasts like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook. The hope? Big Tech’s tendrils of influence will have a harder time hiding in the shadows.

With the new extension enabled, Twitter users will see the following warning on certain profiles: “Disclosure: This person is affiliated with an organization funded by Facebook, Google, and Amazon.”

According to The Federalist, “While lobbyists have to register and disclose their work, the disclosure of donations to think tanks, academics, and the public policy process is largely optional. This allows Big Tech companies to launder lobbying for public policy outcomes through the veneer of independent analysis from both left and right perspectives.”

Launder lobbying for public policy outcomes.

This is doing serious damage to our democratic process. Google has even been caught paying professors to write papers that are cited in key policy discussions. Since 2009, Google has funded more than 100 papers on public policy.

“Some of those papers end up weighing in on consequential public policy decisions. When the Federal Trade Commission decided not to pursue an antitrust case against Google in 2013, agency economists advising that approach cited…a study by Google and two academic papers funded by grants from Google,” The Federalist reports.

And that’s just one company.

Amazon is also heavily lobbying behind the scenes, giving large sums of cash to think tanks like the Progressive Policy Institute. The PPI was caught releasing a supposedly independent list of “investment heroes” – and it’s not difficult to guess who was on top.

Amazon.

According to The Federalist, the tech giant, “immediately snapped up the plaudit and paid for an ad in Politico. [So] Amazon funds a think tank that ranks it as a top investor, then uses that ranking to sponsor a newsletter touting the award.”

A bold move. One that will hopefully be more difficult with APP’s new browser extension. A warning to shady tech policy pushers: you’re about to be brought out into the sunlight.

For more information on how Big Tech manipulates our democratic process, visit BigTechFunding.org. BTF aggregates information on think tanks, academic centers and advocacy groups funded by Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook.