Coalition Letter

Ban Surveillance Advertising

As leaders across a broad range of issues and industries, we are united in our concern for the safety of our communities and the health of democracy. Social media giants are eroding our consensus reality and threatening public safety in service of a toxic, extractive business model. That’s why we’re joining forces in an effort to ban surveillance advertising.

Surveillance advertising – the core profit-driver for gatekeepers like Facebook and Google, as well as adtech middlemen – is the practice of extensively tracking and profiling individuals and groups, and then microtargeting ads at them based on their behavioral history, relationships, and identity.

These dominant firms curate the content each person sees on their platforms using those dossiers – not just the ads, but newsfeeds, recommendations, trends, and so forth – to keep each user hooked, so they can be served more ads and mined for more data.

Big Tech platforms amplify hate, illegal activities, and conspiracism – and feed users increasingly extreme content – because that’s what generates the most engagement and profit. Their own algorithmic tools have boosted everything from white supremacist groups and Holocaust denialism to COVID-19 hoaxes, counterfeit opioids and fake cancer cures. Echo chambers, radicalization, and viral lies are features of these platforms, not bugs—central to the business model.

And surveillance advertising is further damaging the information ecosystem by starving the traditional news industry, especially local journalism. Facebook and Google’s monopoly power and data harvesting practices have given them an unfair advantage, allowing them to dominate the digital advertising market, siphoning up revenue that once kept local newspapers afloat. So while Big Tech CEOs get richer, journalists get laid off.

Big Tech will continue to stoke discrimination, division, and delusion – even if it fuels targeted violence or lays the groundwork for an insurrection – so long as it’s in their financial interest.

There is no silver bullet to remedy this crisis – and the members of this coalition will continue to pursue a range of different policy approaches, from comprehensive privacy legislation to reforming our antitrust laws and liability standards.

But here’s one thing we all agree on: It’s time to ban surveillance advertising.

Accountable Tech logo
Action Center on Race & the Economy logo
Alliance to Counter Crime Online logo
American Economic Liberties Project logo
Anti-Defamation League logo
Artist Rights Alliance logo
Avaaz logo
Center For Countering Digital Hate logo
Center for Digital Democracy logo
Center for Humane Technology Logo
Citizens Privacy Coalition of Santa Clara County logo
Common Sense Media logo
Consumer Federation of America Logo
Decode Democracy Logo
Demand Progress logo
Demos logo
Electronic Privacy Information Center logo
Fair Vote Logo
Fight Corporate Monopolies Logo
Fight for the Future Logo
Free Speech For People Logo
Global Action Plan Logo
Global Witness logo
Guns Down America logo
Institute for Strategic Dialogue Logo
Kairos Logo
Liberation in a Generation
Media Matters Logo
National Hispanic Media Coalition logo
New Economics Foundation logo
Open MIC logo
Open Markets Institute logo
Open Rights Group logo
Parents Together logo
Partnership for Working Families logo
People's Action logo
Public Citizen Logo
Sleeping Giants logo
Social Security Works logo
Stop Predatory Gambling logo
Sum of Us logo
Tech Transparency Project logo
Tech Workers Action logo
The Campaign for Gambling-Free Kids logo
The Real Facebook Oversight Board Logo
Social Dilemma logo
Ultra Violet Logo
Xnet Logo