Protect our Democracy. Protest Facebook.

Our election is at risk–in part because of Facebook

This year’s US presidential elections are in jeopardy—in part because San Francisco Bay Area technology company Facebook refuses to take responsibility for the lies, hate, and disinformation that are being spread using its platform.

Facebook refuses to take down advertisements by US politicians that feature even the most blatant falsehoods. It freely allows microtargeting that directs disinformation at vulnerable communities that is hidden from everyone else. And its efforts to stop the spread of toxic lies and hate are too little, too late.

Please join us to say enough is enough! 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 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.

And more

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.

Webcast: What you can do to stop lies and hate on Facebook

Whether it’s racist rhetoric by Donald Trump, disinformation about the coronavirus, or lies in ads by political campaigns, Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have failed to act. Watch this June 10, 2020 webcast to find out what you can do to stop the lies and hate on Facebook. It features:

  • Jeffrey Chester, Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy

  • Fadi Quran, Campaigns Director, Avaaz

  • Carmen Scurato, Senior Policy Counsel, Free Press

Watch the webcast.

Facebook moderators open letter

In June 2020, Facebook moderators published an open letter expressing solidarity with Black Lives Matter and objecting to Facebook’s lack of action against after President Trump posted a message threatening and inciting violence against Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

Read the letter on Medium.

Wake the ZUCK Up Projection Protest

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 on May 26, 2020, 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.

An International Women’s Day Appeal to Sheryl Sandberg

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. 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.

February 17, 2020 @ Mark Zuckerberg’s house

This Presidents Day, 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

Big Tech’s Big Defector

Roger McNamee made a fortune as one of Silicon Valley’s earliest champions. Now he’s one of its most fervent critics. This profile in the New Yorker explains how he came to believe that Facebook was being exploited to sow division among voters—and that company executives had turned a blind eye.