New Searchable Database Shows Which Groups Get Big Tech Funding
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 11, 2021
Contact: Michael Clauw, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) is launching a new tracking tool designed to be a resource for journalists and citizens concerned about the growing–and often hidden–influence of Big Tech. Google, Facebook, and Amazon have built massive influence operations, in part by funding an array of third-party groups. TTP compiled information about these organizations– over 700 of them–and put it into a searchable database available for all to use.
Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “As Big Tech cash flows quietly to hundreds of groups, it can be difficult to keep track of those that have a financial interest in protecting Silicon Valley’s profits. With this database, we hope that any statements or actions taken by these groups in support of Big Tech will be viewed with proper context.”
The database gives an instant readout on whether organizations have received funding from tech companies. With data from Facebook, Google, and Amazon dating back to 2015, this database is the most comprehensive historical look at tech company giving to nonprofits to date. However, it likely doesn’t capture the full extent of Big-Tech funded groups, because—for now—it relies on the tech companies’ voluntary disclosures. In the future, TTP plans to expand this database with additional details culled from media reports and nonprofit IRS 990 forms as well as from other sources. TTP also plans to add information about Apple-funded groups in the months ahead.
The data collected so far reveals a clear effort by these companies to build a broad base of support as discussions about government regulations become increasingly common. Google significantly increased the number of groups it was supporting in 2018-2019, around the time that California passed landmark consumer privacy reform. The number of Amazon contributions surged the following year as conversations surrounding antitrust reform gained traction among federal lawmakers.
Also notable are the 58 groups that received contributions from all three companies. These groups tend to have a clear policy or political focus, including the Republican and Democratic Governors Associations, the Progressive Policy Institute, New America Foundation, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, American Antitrust Institute, and Americans for Tax Reform.
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “Google, Facebook, and Amazon are betting they can use their endless coffers to fund groups that will support Big Tech in nearly every sector of American discourse. This support, however, only carries weight if the public assigns value. Armed with this database, we hope that journalists, lawmakers, and concerned citizens will be better equipped to see Big Tech’s paid praise for what it’s truly worth.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.