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Commentary: Corporate big beasts stick their necks out for democracy

In the run up to the US election, Donald Trump’s questioning of the mail-in balloting, attempts to restrict funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS), assertions the process was ‘rigged’, and refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, all stoked uncertainty and anxiety over the conduct of the election and the acceptance of its results – a concern shared by CEOs who identified with either or neither party.

... [C]orporate America, Wall Street, and Main Street were not alone in taking a stand when it mattered – so did Silicon Valley, as the big tech platforms took unprecedented steps to support election integrity and reduce voter suppression... [However] Big Tech has not made fundamental changes to the underlying drivers of electoral disinformation – the opaque algorithms and targeted advertising business models that amplify polarization and enable the spread of disinformation at scale.

... Business should recognize its own stake in the shared space of the rule of law, accountable governance, and civic freedoms. Over the past few years, the corporate world has been increasingly, if intermittently – and for the most part inadequately – engaged on civil society space issues, with major multinationals registering at best a mixed, even patchy record on human rights issues more broadly... Businesses are also increasingly aware of expectations and demands that they become advocates - however reluctantly... It is hoped the bold and unprecedented action of corporate America in the US election inspires similar action by business in relation to civil society space issues in 2021.

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