May 10, 2024

Designing for Election 2024, a Pro-Social Recap

Top recommendations - from 4 experts - on how platforms should prepare for the election

Jess Weaver
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Top recommendations - from 4 experts - on how platforms should prepare for the election

Which platform design solutions best minimize risk to election integrity and social cohesion going into Election 2024? If you’re a smaller platform with limited resources, which designs should you prioritize?

Those were the questions we put to our four expert panelists: Glenn Ellingson (Integrity Institute), Kaili Lambe (Accountable Tech), Nicole Schneidman (Protect Democracy), and Ravi Iyer (the Neely Center). Each of their organizations have thought carefully about designs that are most effective in protecting election integrity and serving civic society more broadly (see their recently published reports and other resources below). PDN was interested in where their recommendations dovetailed - and perhaps diverged - and were fortunate to gather them together for one information-packed conversation.

Four key recommendations emerged. To be protech election integrity, platforms should be: putting in place reasonable rate limits and circuit breakers, using quality-based content rankers (as opposed to engagement-based), setting guardrails on election-related GenAI, and promoting authoritative information on elections.

Limit the loudest voices

Ravi Iyer explained that rate limits can be a simple and democratic solution to the skewed distribution of political talk on social media, where content is dominated by a vocal, often divisive, minority. Setting soft or hard rate limits (i.e. downranking content or capping actions) can have the effect of increasing the participation of more representative voices while decreasing exposure to the loudest political actors.

Quality > engagement

Just as the number of exclamation points used should not determine a post’s reach, Glenn Ellingson discussed why platforms should not rank posts based on engagement. This is an even more urgent prerogative in an election year, since ranking by engagement can promote similarly harmful  content. Instead, he recommends using signals of positive and negative quality to up and downrank content. As Glenn explained, those signals can be external (e.g. Google’s pagerank) or based on user feedback. What users want to engage with and what they do engage with are not the same; using quality indicators can give users a more satisfying (and less regretful) experience while reducing exposure to, say, excessive rage-inducing content.

Amplify authoritative content

Nicole Schneidman recommended platforms take one step further and not just rank content based on quality, but introduce and amplify authoritative content about elections. Misinformation is impossible to eliminate completely, but all types of platforms - including social media, messaging and GenAI - can integrate information from authoritative sources. And they don’t have to start from scratch; platforms are working with a number of 3rd party providers (such as Democracy Works, Meedan or NASS) to help tee up election information users can trust.

Guardrails on GenAI

Finally, Kaili Lambe talked about what platforms can do to counter the latest - and perhaps largest - risk to election integrity, the use of GenAI to mislead or otherwise manipulate voters. Given GenAI’s potential to disrupt election integrity, Kaili recommends platforms take a hard stand by prohibiting the use of GenAI in targeted advertising and content around election integrity.

Our guests also acknowledged that - given time and resource constraints, especially for smaller platforms - it may not be possible to integrate all these solutions. As Nicole and Glenn pointed out, we have to be real about feasibility and not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. 

So if you’re a smaller platform and you want to minimize risks and support election integrity, our panelists recommend prioritizing: 

  • setting rate limits and 
  • integrating authoritative content.

For more details on all our guests recommendations, see the links to their reports below - and check out the full conversation:

Jess is a researcher and communications strategist at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

About the Prosocial Design Network

The Prosocial Design Network researches and promotes prosocial design: evidence-based design practices that bring out the best in human nature online. Learn more at

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