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Money & Influence 02.22.2024

San Francisco Chronicle/San Jose Spotlight: Special Interests Spend Big In Silicon Valley Congressional Race

Sean McMorris, transparency, ethics and accountability program manager for California Common Cause, said super PACs are likely spending more in this race because it's an open seat. McMorris added that even if there's no coordination between candidates and the super PACs, these groups support candidates who they think would best protect the groups' interests. "It sends a strong message," McMorris told San Jose Spotlight. "They're hoping in one way or another that the candidate feels some type of obligation toward them once they're in office and with that obligation, that opens doors potentially for them to get access and influence over the candidate once they're actually seated." McMorris said looking at a super PAC's donors lets voters see which special interests support certain candidates. "At a minimum, they don't want to make any enemies," McMorris said. "All these special interests are fighting to get the person who -- out of all those candidates -- is going to be the most beneficial to them."

Media & Democracy 02.8.2024

FCC Outlaws AI Robocalls

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted to outlaw robocalls that utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) voice-cloning tools. Long a matter of concern, the issue made national headlines when the technology was utilized to mimic President Biden’s voice in robocalls in the runup to the New Hampshire primary. Those calls are currently under investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office. The FCC ban is effective immediately.

Media & Democracy 02.8.2024

PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman: Elon Musk wrong to say Joe Biden is recruiting immigrants to create a Democratic majority

It’s easy to discount such "conspiracy theory nonsense" from random trolls on X, but it’s powerful when it comes from Musk, who owns the platform, said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, a group that advocates for voting rights. Democracies require participation, and falsehoods "only increase the likelihood that people will lose faith in our elections and simply opt out," Gutierrez said.

Media & Democracy 10.10.2023

Briefing Room with Ian Masters (AUDIO): Elon Musk’s X Now Monetizes Disinformation by Fake Journalists With Blue- Check Accounts Who Get Paid to Spread Lies

We examine the flood of disinformation about the war in Israel on Twitter or X since Elon Musk allows anyone to buy Blue-Check accounts previously restricted to journalists, politicians and business and world leaders which fake journalists can now use to spread outrageous lies that can be monetized depending on the millions they deceive. Joining us is Emma Steiner, the Information Accountability Project Manager at Common Cause where she leads efforts to protect voters from disinformation related to voting rights and democracy, and to help defend against lies that undermine the integrity of our elections.

Media & Democracy 10.10.2023

HuffPost: Twitter’s Monetization For Blue-Check Accounts May Be Fueling Fake News On Israel-Palestine

Emma Steiner, the information accountability project manager at Common Cause, told HuffPost that Musk’s monetization program, combined with his new system for receiving “verified” badges, had encouraged misleading information. “The new verification system means that it’s almost impossible to discern real news from fake news on the platform now, especially since people are posting specifically to gain revenue for engagement,” Steiner said. “That creates some really perverse incentives for breaking news events.”

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