The NAACP declared a week long boycott of Facebook to highlight that the platform has not addressed longstanding racial issues.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said in a statement Tuesday the company is committed to working with organizations on advancing civil rights on the platform. She offered a an update to the company’s “Civil Rights Audit” that started six months ago.
“We know we need to do more,” Sandberg said. “[The] report includes areas where we can and should do better – and we’re working hard to address these concerns.”
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Facebook allowed Russia to target African Americans on their global platform. Memes and messages were used to sow discord in the Black community and depress the vote in the 2016 presidential election. In particular, the Black Lives Matter movement and racial tensions in the United States were exploited as Russian agents created websites and posed as Black users to declare their support for either President Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
While the right-wing pages promoted Mr. Trump’s candidacy, the left-wing pages scorned Mrs. Clinton while promoting Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. The voter suppression effort was focused particularly on Sanders supporters and African-Americans, urging them to shun Mrs. Clinton in the general election and either vote for Ms. Stein or stay home.The New York Times
In 2016, the Black share of the vote decreased for the first time in 20 years. It was also the first election held in which the full weight of the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the John Roberts Supreme Court. Many critics are quick to say that the former Secretary of State did not do enough to reach out to the Black vote outside of claiming the Barack Obama mantle, high profile endorsements such as Jay Z and Beyonce and loving hot sauce. Her legacy was also stained by the 1994 crime bill which Sanders also supported. Furthermore, being repeatedly told that Sanders marched with MLK came off more trolling than a genuine show of his commitment to civil rights. There were many variables that contributed to Clinton’s loss but these latest findings show that Russia exploited them.
If Facebook weren’t having enough issues, including treatment of its Black employees, the media giant was also outted for allowing more than 150 companies access to user accounts. Netflix and Spotify were able to read the messages of users without consent. It was another breach of privacy by an organization plagued by scandal. Facebook posted a blog denying the claims but their stock plunged as the news broke that data was once again inappropriately shared.
Most threatening to boycott will resume using it within the next few days. However, it’s worth remembering that it was not a mass Exodus that signaled the end of MySpace. One user after another committed to leaving the site until its relevancy waned. The same fate can await Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.