NAACP leads #LogOutFacebook protest, returns donation

Salon spoke with the NAACP about its protest against Facebook for allowing African Americans to be victimized

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 19, 2018 12:09PM (EST)

 (AP/Richard Drew)
(AP/Richard Drew)

Yesterday the NAACP began its #LogOutFacebook campaign to protest, according to the venerable organization's website, "the tech company’s history of data hacks which unfairly target its users of color."

As the website went on to explain, the protests are motivated by a recent report released for the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed that the Russian influence campaign "made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans." The NAACP's statement also includes a link to a New York Times article from Monday which explained the following:

“The most prolific I.R.A. efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted black American communities and appear to have been focused on developing black audiences and recruiting black Americans as assets,” the report says. Using Gmail accounts with American-sounding names, the Russians recruited and sometimes paid unwitting American activists of all races to stage rallies and spread content, but there was a disproportionate pursuit of African-Americans, it concludes.

The article also described efforts to convince African Americans to not vote for Hillary Clinton and, in the process, help elect Donald Trump.

While the right-wing pages promoted Mr. Trump’s candidacy, the left-wing pages scorned Mrs. Clinton while promoting Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. The voter suppression effort was focused particularly on Sanders supporters and African-Americans, urging them to shun Mrs. Clinton in the general election and either vote for Ms. Stein or stay home.

"We think the protest is drawing the type of attention that we sought when we launched it yesterday," Malik Russell, a spokesperson for the NAACP, told Salon. "It's a log out. We don't want to confuse people with it being a boycott. It's a log out. We're logging out for a week and we're asking our partners to log out at least for a day or for the whole week."

He added, "The point was to bring attention to many of the instances in which we feel like Facebook has not protected our privacy, has not protected the African American community. There are issues around the 2016 presidential election and the utilization of Facebook as a tool for voter suppression by external forces and individuals and organizations with Russian influence. We wanted to bring attention to that issue. Oftentimes we're talking about voter suppression from internal sources, from party base and partisan sources, but now we're seeing this is another level of suppression that we'll have to address as a community."

The organization said it has also returned a recent donation from Facebook.

On Tuesday, The New York Times revealed that Facebook had also shared users' private messages with large corporations like Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon, Yahoo and Spotify. In the process, they have drawn attention to potential lies in how they depicted their safeguarding of users' information and raised questions about whether they violated a 2011 consent agreement that the company had struck with the Federal Trade Commission which prohibited them from sharing user data without explicitly expressed permission.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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