The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is urging a boycott of Facebook today after two new reports show Russian trolls specifically targeted black communities on the platform during the 2016 election.
The reports (from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and cybersecurity firm New Knowledge) confirm previous suspicions of Russian meddling in the United States presidential election that installed Donald Trump as Commander-in-Chief. But they also shine a new light on the disinformation efforts’ specific aim at African Americans.
In fact, in a move to undermine votes for Hillary Clinton—as noted by Gizmodo and outlined in the report from New Knowledge—Russia’s Internet Research Agency devised a comprehensive media system that singled out African Americans with a combination of political propaganda and real ads for black media and black-owned small businesses.
The disinformation strategies included Instagram posts that cited an unproven claim that Clinton received donations from the Ku Klux Klan. Other ads used Black Lives Matter imagery to further a particular deception. The NAACP’s boycott asks users to also log out of the Facebook-owned Instagram and Whatsapp throughout Tuesday, according to Variety.
“Two independent reports commissioned by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released Monday on the Russian Internet Research Agency’s use of technology around the 2016 election suggest that the IRA’s efforts had a disproportionate impact on communities of color,” Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg writes in response. “We take this incredibly seriously, as demonstrated by the investments we’ve made in safety.”
But the NAACP says it returned a donation from Facebook. And its boycott is seemingly being bolstered by a recent memo from a former Facebook manager that claims the tech giant excluded and discriminated against black employees and users.
NAACP has returned a monetary donation we recently received from Facebook, and we are calling on supporters to log out of Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday, December 18. We implore you, our partners, friends, and supporters to join us. #LogOutFacebook pic.twitter.com/tOBKhnbRTW
— NAACP (@NAACP) December 17, 2018
“NAACP has returned a monetary donation we recently received from Facebook,” the organization shared on Twitter earlier this week, “and we are calling on supporters to log out of Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday, December 18.”
The post continues, “We implore you, our partners, friends, and supporters to join us.” It’s appended with the hashtag #LogOutFacebook, signifying the effort’s reaction to Facebook’s failure to curb online Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“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 Derrick Johnson added in a statement.
What do you think about the NAACP’s call for a boycott of Facebook? Will you be logging out of the social media network and its affiliated apps today? Sound off in the comments section, below, with your thoughts on the new reports.