Facebook’s indifference is putting us all at risk.
For many Facebook users, the news in October that the company had changed its advertising policies to allow politicians and political parties to blatantly lie in their advertisements was the last straw.
Facebook users’ concerns with the company’s policies started long before October. They include the fact that the company failed to prevent Russian disinformation from being widely spread on its platform during the 2016 election and that Russian targeting of African-American voters may have suppressed African American turnout. Incitement of violence and human rights violations are also of concern. The call to action for the Save Our Democracy: Protest Facebook event states, “In Myanmar and India, Facebook’s failure to recognize its role in facilitating the incitement of hate-fueled violence has meant life and death. In the United States, its callous disregard for its role in facilitating the breakdown of our democratic beliefs, norms, and values is threatening the fabric of our society.”
Facebook has become a net negative for our society, putting profits before public good at every turn.
Now we’re coming together to put a stop to it.
Global Exchange is joining forces with media advocacy organizations, human rights groups and corporate campaigners to demand Facebook changes its ways.
Enough is enough!
We’re urging Facebook to:
Facebook must immediately prevent its platform from being used to spread disinformation and divisiveness that could disrupt our elections. We’re urging Facebook to:
Stop the lies in political ads
Facebook should fact check advertisements placed by politicians and political campaigns. In other words, it should hold these political ads to the same standards it applies to advertisements that are not placed by politicians. As Facebook employees said in an open letter to company leadership, “Misinformation shared by political advertisers has an outsized detrimental impact on our community.” If you or I lied in an advertisement on Facebook, it would immediately be taken down.
Prohibit political ad microtargeting
Right now political campaigns can target their ads so precisely that they can pinpoint them to reach specific voters. The problem with this, according to former Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub, is that “false and misleading messages may be disseminated in a way that does not allow people with conflicting information to counter those messages, because they won’t see them.” Facebook already restricts targeting for industries with a history of discrimination, like housing. They should do the same with political ads.
Refuse service to anyone trying to disrupt the 2020 election
All businesses can refuse service to a person who violates their policies. Restaurants usually require patrons to .wear shoes and shirts. Facebook should require that users refrain from using the platform to disrupt the 2020 election. They can do this by implementing terms of service or acceptable usage policies that require users to follow certain rules about how Facebook can be used.
There’s no dearth of ideas for how to reform Facebook to protect our democracy and our civil society. Facebook’s own employees have put forward an excellent set of recommendations that include spending caps for politicians and observing silence periods free from political advertisements before elections. Another strong set of recommendations was put forward by Change the Terms, which focuses on how the platform can enforce an acceptable use policy to prevent Facebook from being used to incite hate, fear and abusive behavior. Finally, a number of organizations make the case that the Federal Trade Commission should break up Facebook, which now has unprecedented power to decide what news and information billions of people around the world see every day.
Momentum is Building
TUES., MAY 26, 9 PM: WAKE THE ZUCK UP PROJECTION PROTEST
A virtual protest the night before the Facebook shareholders’ meeting
Pro-democracy activists had a message for Facebook shareholders: “Wake the ZUCK Up!” We projected this message and others onto the side of the Facebook building in San Francisco the night before the shareholders’ virtual meeting. We urged the shareholders to protect the public from lies, hate, and disinformation in political advertisements during the 2020 election season.
Sponsored by Don’t Let Facebook ZUCK UP our Democracy, Media Alliance, Global Exchange, Indivisible SF-Peninsula CA 14, Raging Grannies Action League, Vigil for Democracy, and others. Projection by ResistanceSF.
SUN., MARCH 8: AN INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY APPEAL TO SHERYL SANDBERG
Women call on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to “Lean In” to stop the lies
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, has asked women around the world to “lean in” and do the things they’ve been afraid to do. Now women in her community are asking Sandberg to lean in herself—to get her company to change its dangerous policy of letting politicians blatantly lie in their Facebook ads.
Although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes most of the heat when it comes to Facebook’s enabling the spread of lies, hate, and disinformation, Sandberg is just as responsible for policies that are endangering our very democracy.
On International Women’s Day, Sunday, March 8, we tweeted photos of ourselves holding up signs with messages to Sandberg using the hashtag #LeanInAgainstLies. This protest was originally planned as an in-person protest outside of Sandberg’s house in Menlo Park, but it was moved online because of public health recommendations related to COVID-19.
Political ads that lie about topics from women’s reproductive rights to climate change to other political candidates, and that try to suppress voter turnout and responses to the census are a risk to women’s lives.
MON., FEB. 17: WAKE THE ZUCK UP ACTION
Protesters Gather Outside of Mark Zuckerberg’s house in San Francisco
On Presidents Day 2020, we gathered outside Mark Zuckerberg’s house in San Francisco to let him know that we won’t be quiet in the face of his company undermining our democracy. We also created a human billboard over the freeway in Palo Alto, which is where Mark Zuckerberg also has a house.
Check out the media coverage:
CNET: ‘Wake up Zuck!’ Protesters gather outside of Facebook CEO’s San Francisco home
SF Examiner: Activists tell Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to “Zuck off”
Mission Local and SFGATE: ‘Wake up, Zuck’: Protesters gather outside of Facebook founder’s home, demand regulation of political ads
SFIST: Protesters Swarm Zuckerberg’s SF Home to Condemn Facebook Political Ad Policy
KCBS Radio: Protesters Gather Outside Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s San Francisco Home
JANUARY 9, 2020: ACTION AT FACEBOOK HEADQUARTERS
Protesters Gather at Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, CA to Demand Action to Stop Lies and Hate
On January 9th we held an in-person protest in front of Facebook’s corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, California*. The event was covered by CNBC, ABC7, KQED, OAN (One American News Network) and more. We published an Op Ed in the San Francisco Examiner: Want fair elections? Help us protest Facebook, by Ted Lewis of Global Exchange and Tracy Rosenberg of Media Alliance.
JANUARY 9, 2020: ACTION BLACKOUT FACEBOOK
People Across the Country Blackout their Facebook Pages to call on Facebook to Put Truth over Profits.
And we called on people all over the country to join the #FacebookBlackout — by replacing their profile picture and cover photo with a blackout Facebook box.
*These events were organized in collaboration with our partners at the Media Alliance, and endorsed by MediaJustice, CODEPINK, CREDO Action, Indivisible SF Peninsula/CA-14, Indivisible Healdsburg, FacebookBlackout2020.com, Free Press Action, SumOfUs, Vigil for Democracy, Coastside United for Action, and RYSE.