‘Prioritise people and planet over profit’: Patagonia calls on firms to join Facebook boycott

CEO Ryan Gellert says he stood by his decision to pull advertising from the platform in the wake of recent revelations

Gino Spocchia
Friday 29 October 2021 15:59

Facebook frames future with new name

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Patagonia has renewed calls for firms to boycott Facebook, which it said must “prioritise people and planet over profit” before it returned to the site.

In a statement, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert said he believed Facebook “has a responsibility to make sure its products do no harm, and until they do, Patagonia will continue to withhold our advertising”.

“We encourage other businesses to join us in pushing Facebook to prioritise people and planet over profit”, added Mr Gellert on Thursday.

His comments came after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company would be renamed “Meta”, and that he had plans to build an online “metaverse” – or network.

That announcement avoided any mention of the Facebook Papers – a collection of leaked internal documents that have been obtained by a consortium of news organisations, including The Associated Press, and support claims that Facebook has prioritised profits over people’s safety.

Patagonia first began boycotting Facebook in 2020 amid concerns that it “spread hate speech and misinformation about climate change and our democracy,” Mr Gellert added. “We continue to stand by that boycott 16 months later.”

According to the Facebook Papers, Donald Trump was not removed from the platform in May 2020 for breaking its own rules – despite Facebook’s internal controls predicting with “90 per cent certainty” that his remarks encouraged violence.

After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May, a Facebook employee allegedly wrote in a memo that by 5 June, “we can see clearly that the entire country was basically ‘on fire’”, after Mr Trump called demonstrators “thugs”.

Mr Trump was not removed from Facebook until January 2021, when his supporters stormed the US Capitol building citing false claims of a rigged 2020 election.

Critics of Facebook claim that it allowed those allegations to spread on the site.

Internal documents seen by The Washington Post also show that Facebook’s own algorithms promoted provocative and controversial posts over those with “likes” or fewer reactions.

Mr Gellert, the Patagonia CEO, added: “The internal Facebook documents released over the last few weeks have made it incredibly clear that they know the irreparable damage that their lack of accountability causes their three billion users and the corrosive effects that has on society itself”.

“Facebook’s executives know what steps it can take to mitigate such harm – yet they have repeatedly failed to reform,” Mr Gellery said.

The Independent has approached Facebook for comment.

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