Tomorrow, NCRC will be temporarily dropping out of Facebook and Instagram. We’re going to log out and stay out of both November 10-13 to support a nationwide campaign designed to address some deep problems with Facebook.
This is a short-term and modest action to send a message and urge solutions to some, but not all, of the problems within Facebook.
Among other things, the campaign wants Mark Zuckerberg to step down as CEO of Facebook.
As both a social network and a business, Facebook has been a stunning success since Zuckerberg and some friends at Harvard launched it in 2004. In 2021, nearly 3 billion people use it monthly worldwide, 261 million of them in the US and Canada. For some, it’s a vital link to family and friends – and leaving forever would be difficult. In some countries, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, Facebook is nearly synonymous with the internet – a vital and unique link to news and information as well as to people. Facebook, which last week announced a new corporate name, Meta, also owns Instagram and the messaging app Whatsapp.
But there are problems. Facebook is a digital machine engineered and optimized to encourage addictive and dehumanizing behavior, reward creators of divisive content, spread and maximize the “velocity” of disinformation, collect personal data and then sell advertising based on that data so marketers of all stripes, for good and for evil, can narrowly target and spread their messages.
In the past, Facebook enabled discrimination in advertising for real estate and jobs, and discriminatory advertising continued even after the company said it would end, but that’s just one of a mesmirizing matrix of bad practices over the years.
It is, quite simply, a problematic company and singular in its global and local impacts on citizenship, civic discourse and democracy.
At NCRC, a nonprofit coalition dedicated to economic justice, we’re weighing a permanent shift away from Facebook – a step Patagonia took earlier this year. But for now, this is a short-term move to raise the alarm among our members, networks and allies, and to show support for a campaign that deserves nationwide and global attention. You don’t have to “sign on” to anything to join this week’s protest – just stop using Facebook and Instagram for a few days starting tomorrow, Nov. 10, 2021. Facebook’s profits depend on us – the people who use it, and on those who spend money there for advertising. This week’s logout won’t destroy the company. But it will send a message. We can all do better. So can Facebook.
Andrew Nachison is NCRC’s Chief Communications & Marketing Officer.