The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began a weeklong boycott of Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday after a bombshell Senate Intelligence Committee report found that the 2016 Russian influence campaign made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans on social media.
The civil rights organization is calling on supporters to log out of Facebook Inc (FB) and Instagram for one week to protest Facebook's history of data hacks and lack of action in allowing third parties to unfairly target users of color. It is calling the digital protest #LogOutFacebook.
According to the New York Times, reports commissioned for the Senate committee by two cybersecurity companies found that the Russian disinformation campaign run by one St. Petersburg firm created social media accounts under fake names on every available social media platform to boost Donald Trump's campaign. In particular, the Russian firm targeted African-Americans with the goal of suppressing voter turnout and stirring racial divisions.
The influence campaign continued after the election, starting with propping up Trump against Republican rivals in the presidential race, then in the general election and also as president since his inauguration, according to the Times.
"Facebook's engagement with partisan firms, its targeting of political opponents, the spread of misinformation and the utilization of Facebook for propaganda promoting disingenuous portrayals of the African American community is reprehensible," Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, said in a statement. The organization has also been critical of Silicon Valley's tech giants for the lack of diversity among their employees and senior leadership, despite targeting Facebook specifically in this boycott.
The civil rights organization said it returned donations it recently received from Facebook, which is also the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp.
"The #LogOutFacebook is a protest -- a way to signify to Facebook that the data and privacy of its users of color matter more than its corporate interests and that as the largest social network in the world, it is Facebook's corporate social responsibility to ensure that people of color are well represented in their workforce and recognize that users of color have a right to be protected [from] propaganda and misinformation," read the NAACP's statement in part.
Facebook shares were rising 1.7% to $142.54 in morning trading on Tuesday and are down almost 20% this year.
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