WHEN: August 19, 2022

WHAT: Activists confront Facebook at nation’s largest progressive conference for its ties to abortion prosecution. Shortly after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, Facebook helped police in their prosecution of a teenager and her mother by sharing their data after the daughter sought an abortion. 

WHERE: Pittsburgh, PA – Netroots Nation

WHO: Netroots attendees led by Facebook Users Union

August 19th, 2022 (Pittsburgh, PA) –  Attendees of Netroots Nation, the largest progressive gathering in the nation, confronted Meta, a Premier Sponsor of the event, for continually failing to protect its users and their right to privacy. Conference attendees are also calling on Netroots Nationto reevaluate its sponsor selection process to better reflect the values of the convention, and to cut ties with Meta, including Facebook and the Oversight Board, a Meta-funded entity that whitewashes Facebook moderation decisions.

Facebook’s harms to users are varied and numerous. Recently, the platform handed over private messages between a Nebraska mother and her daughter who was seeking abortion care. The teen is now being tried as an adult for having an abortion. Because these messages were not encrypted, Meta allowed itself to be used as a tool for the unjust prosecution of abortion seekers. Because of the platform’s insufficient measures to protect user privacy or moderate content across language, Facebook ads actively profits from anti-abortion disinformation campaigns targeting abortion seekers. Facebook also finances The Oversight Board, an internal entity that lacks independent oversight measures and is a thinly veiled attempt to self-regulate, while avoiding meaningful accountability. 

The action is organized by Brittany Williams of Facebook Users group, building users power to hold Facebook Accounable, who is a first time Netroots attendee and spoke as an official panelist in a session about the harms of Big Tech earlier during the convention.  Williams states “that Meta should not be welcomed in any progressive space when they aid in genocide in India and Ehtopia, are accused of human trafficking in Kenya, and share data with police to criminalize their users.” Voices of long-time attendees like Rafael Shimunov of the Athena Coalition, were also present, “I love Netroots, I come every year I can and I will always continue to come because of its amazing attendees and leadership. I’m sympathetic to its organizers and how difficult it is to fund these things, and I hope we as a movement don’t just say ‘hey, this is a little bit too far’ and walk away hoping someone fixes it, but use the collective talent in these rooms to figure out a better way to financially support something as critical, needed and celebrated as Netroots. In my many years attending, I’ve seen first hand how much Netroots cares about feedback and the incredible work they have done to create one of the most powerful positive forces in politics.” 

Facebook Users Union invites progressive voices at Netroots Nations to take a public stance on the role of Meta and Facebook in progressive spaces. Both Meta and The Oversight Board are Premier Sponsors with a large footprint across the event. We call on participants to make their stance clear by visiting the Facebook booth at Netroots Nation, while respectfully letting workers at that stall know we are confronting Mark Zuckerberg’s and Meta’s corporate power, and not them. We invite journalists and allies to visit the Facebook Users Union website for further information.


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