NAACP Joins Growing List of Civil Rights Groups Criticizing Facebook

December 18, 2018, 8:42 AM UTC

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the oldest U.S. civil-rights organizations, has returned a donation it received from Facebook Inc. and is encouraging a week-long boycott starting Tuesday, Dec. 18.

The NAACP urged its members and supporters to log out of Facebook and sister platform Instagram in response to a report released Monday which found that Russian hacking of the 2016 election heavily targeted African-Americans.

“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,” NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement.

The NAACP is also asking Congress to further investigate Facebook’s involvement in Russian hacking. In a tweet, the Congressional Black Caucus signaled its willingness, writing, “Last year we met with Facebook & other tech companies about this issue. If they can’t stop the weaponization of their platforms, then Congress will.”

The company said in a statement that it has provided thousands of ads to lawmakers and made progress in preventing interference during elections.

Facebook has been facing a barrage of criticism, with a collection of 31 civil rights groups calling for changes to its top management. Organizations including MoveOn and Muslim Advocates want Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to step down as chairman and for Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to leave the board entirely.

In November, Facebook attracted the ire of Color of Change, which called for greater regulation of the company. The move by the online racial justice group followed revelations that one of Facebook’s Republican-allied consultants probed Color of Change’s funding because of earlier criticism.

“They have too much power over our democracy and over our economy for them not to be fully held accountable,” said Color of Change President Rashad Robinson on Monday, calling for “a full accounting of how race was weaponized inside this last election.”

Also in November, an employee, Mark S. Luckie, went public with an account of his difficulties as an African-American employee at a company where only four percent of the U.S. workforce is black. The company said at the time it was “working diligently to increase the range of perspectives” in its workforce.

African Americans have a strong presence on social media: 70 percent of black U.S. adults use Facebook and 43 percent use Instagram, the Pew Research Center has found. African Americans are more likely to use Facebook to communicate with family and friends daily, Pew’s research found. Sixty-three percent use Facebook to communicate with family, and 60 percent use it to communicate with friends at least once a day, compared with 53 percent and 54 percent of the total population, respectively.

“Our decision to return the donation to Facebook and logging out of the platform for a week is to bring attention to Facebook ‘s failures in protecting the integrity of both our privacy and our vote,” the NAACP’s Johnson said. “It is crucial that we bring awareness to the fraudulent and inflammatory ads placed on Facebook, the data privacy mishaps, and the damaging impact on African-Americans.”

Tech giants, especially Alphabet Inc.’s Google, have increasingly come under fire from some human rights groups that view them less as beloved and conscientious firms and more as threats to the values the groups seek to uphold.