Hey there --
Last week, we wrote to you about how the ongoing Canadian trucker convoy protest started with a hacked Facebook account. Since then, it has grown into a global far-right movement with copy-cat protests cropping up across the world.
But this isn’t the first time Facebook has fanned the flames of extremism and disinformation nor will it be the last if we don’t act to hold Facebook accountable. Here are some other movements fueled by Facebook:
* QAnon: Between 2019 and 2020, the QAnon movement flourished on Facebook. It was only after there were thousands of private QAnon groups and pages with millions of members and followers that Facebook bothered to start banning QAnon content in October 2020. By then, Facebook had cultivated the rise of this conspiracy theory movement through its group recommendations and relentless pursuit of user attention for surveillance advertising with emotive and divisive content.
* Kenosha: In the summer of 2020, a Facebook event instructed people to bring weapons to Kenosha, Wisconsin in response to peaceful protests after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The Facebook event was reported over 455 times, yet it wasn’t taken down until later after Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people at the protests. Mark Zuckerberg called Facebook’s failure to act on its own content policies an "operational mistake.”
* Capitol Insurrection: Immediately after the 2020 presidential election, groups erupted on Facebook questioning the validity of the election in what became the Stop the Steal movement. This movement eventually gave way to the January 6 Capitol insurrection last year. These groups were able to flourish on Facebook because the company turned off its “break the glass” safeguards after Election Day, all the while militias were using the platform to organize and eventually invade the U.S. Capitol in a deadly attempt to disrupt the validation of the presidential election.
Facebook elevated each of these fringe minorities into mainstream movements to the detriment of our democracy and society.
For Facebook, it’s all about profits and the toxic business model of surveillance advertising. They’ll keep serving what keeps people coming back to the platform—even if it’s conspiracy, extremism, disinformation, and hate.
We’re taking action to hold Facebook accountable. We’re leading a global coalition calling for a ban on surveillance advertising and calling on Facebook to stop all group recommendations. But this work takes staff time and resources. If you’re able, chip in to support our work and help us hold Facebook’s feet to the fire:
Donate Now: [link removed]
Thanks for reading through this long email on a federal holiday! Appreciate your interest and support. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Have a good start to the week,
Co-founder & Executive Director
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From: Nicole, Accountable Tech <[email protected]
Date: Mon, Feb 14, 2022 at 1:05 PM
Hey there --
Over the past 3 weeks, truckers have brought Canada’s capital city of Ottawa to a halt in protest of vaccine mandates.
The protests have been especially hard for me and my family in Canada. My aunt who’s a nurse told me about her fellow health care workers fearing for their safety as they try to get to their shifts at hospitals, and even being told to not wear scrubs in public at the risk of being harassed.
Journalists have been attacked and threatened by protesters. National monuments have been defaced and desecrated. Bridges have been shut down by protestors—disrupting the supply chain and forcing companies to temporarily shut down in the U.S. and Canada.
So, how did this protest even begin?
What started from a hacked Facebook account has grown into a global anti-vax and far-right movement. Copycat demonstrations are already popping up all around the world with convoys headed to Paris and Brussels right now. See our thread on Twitter that breaks down the origins of the Canadian trucker convoy protest: [[link removed]]
[link removed] [[link removed]]
The Canadian trucker convoy protest was built on Facebook. Like other anti-vax and right-wing movements, Facebook provided a safe haven for these extremists to congregate and organize in Facebook Groups. Amazingly, these first Facebook Groups about the convoy originated from a hacked Facebook account.
Launched just a few weeks ago, these Facebook Groups amassed over 300,000 followers in a matter of days much like the viral growth we saw in Stop the Steal Facebook Groups after the 2020 presidential election. There have been more than 97,000 posts on Facebook on pages and public groups about the trucker convoy, garnering more than 24 million engagements.
It shouldn’t be this easy for a fringe minority to manufacture viral outrage, and disrupt lives and the economy. Nearly two years ago, we spearheaded the call for Facebook to Stop Group Recommendations [[link removed]] , which have served as hidden breeding grounds for disinformation campaigns and organizing platforms for extremists. A past internal Facebook report revealed that “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools.”
We’re going to keep calling out Facebook for their role in facilitating and cultivating these protests, and advocating for meaningful structural reforms to prevent this from happening again.
We’re fighting to restore our information ecosystem. Our global health and democracy depends on our supporters like you.
Thanks for your support,
We see the irony of asking you to take action on the same platforms we’re fighting to hold accountable, but they are… well… dominant. We have to reach people where they are in order to level the playing field -- and we’re ready to bring the fight right to their own platforms.
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