Facebook 'log out' boycott underway after alleged black voter suppression

'The utilisation of Facebook for propaganda promoting disingenuous portrayals of the African American community is reprehensible,' says NAACP president

Anthony Cuthbertson
Tuesday 18 December 2018 13:29
Facebook log out boycott underway after alleged black voter suppression

A civil rights organisation in the US has called for a boycott of Facebook after a report found a Russian influence campaign on the platform was working to suppress African-American voter turnout.

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) is leading the #LogOut protest on Tuesday, 18 December, while also calling on Congress to further investigate the social network.

A report for the US Senate Intelligence Committee into Russia's online meddling in the build up to the 2016 Presidential election determined black voters were specifically targetted by Russian operatives on social media.

Researchers at Oxford University and network analysis firm Graphika found Russians "sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage" black people from voting, as well as other voting blocks that could challenge Donald Trump.

"Over the last year, NAACP has expressed concerns about the numerous data breaches and privacy mishaps in which Facebook has been imtplicated," the NAACP said in a statement.

"And since the onset of the Silicon Valley boom, the organisation has been openly critical about the lack of employee diversity among the top technology firms in the country."

The civil rights organisation called on its supporters to log out of Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, for one week.

The NAACP said it also returned a recent donation from Facebook following the revelations.

"Facebook's engagement with partisan firms, its targeting of political opponents, the spread of misinformation and the utilisation of Facebook for propaganda promoting disingenuous portrayals of the African American community is reprehensible," said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.

It is not the first boycott campaign Facebook has faced this year, with several high-profile figures in the tech industry calling for people to delete Facebook in March as a result of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Among those leading the boycott was WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, whose company was bought by Facebook for $19bn in 2014. Figures from the social network revealed around a million daily and active users in Europe left the social network in the three months leading up to October.

A spokesperson for Facebook responded to a request for comment from The Independent by referring to a post by Sheryl Sandberg, the firm's chief operating officer.

"Civil rights are core to American values of equality, dignity and freedom from discrimination. Advancing civil rights benefits all of us and is what we stand for as a people," the post stated.

"In May, we accepted the call to undertake a civil rights audit. We asked Laura Murphy, a highly respected civil rights and civil liberties leader, to guide the audit. After speaking with more than 90 civil rights organizations, today Laura is providing an important update on our progress.

"Facebook is committed to working with leading US civil rights organizations to strengthen and advance civil rights on our service. They’ve raised a number of important concerns, and I’m grateful for their candor and guidance. We know that we need to do more: to listen, look deeper and take action to respect fundamental rights."

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