A caravan of about 20 protesters parked in front of Mark Zuckerberg’s residence in Palo Alto on Sunday afternoon to start a storm and deliver a message to the CEO of Facebook: âGet out the Zuck! “
Protesters put signs on their vehicles calling on Zuckerberg to be fired as CEO and said “Facebook is bad for democracy” after a whistleblower recently leaked thousands of confidential documents revealing how the Menlo Park-based social media giant is aware of its role in spreading misinformation and harming the mental health of young people.
The event, which took place outside Zuckerberg’s house on Edgewood Drive, was hosted by two San Francisco-based nonprofits: Global Exchange, an international human rights group, and Media Alliance, which promotes the use of media for social change. Raging Grannies, a local activist group, and Code Pink, a progressive grassroots organization led by women, also helped plan the protest.
Media Alliance executive director Tracy Rosenberg said in an interview that it would be next to impossible to convince billions of people to delete their Facebook accounts. Therefore, users like her should demand platform changes.
âWe indirectly pay Facebook with our time, attention and commitment, because there is no Facebook if we don’t,â Rosenberg said. “So as users we should have some collective power here and we are trying to manifest it.”
Facebook recently came under intense scrutiny from the public and federal lawmakers after Frances Haugen, the company’s former product manager, leaked treasures of internal documents, detailing how the social media giant is aware that its products, including Instagram, spread misinformation and have a negative impact. adolescent mental health, however, chooses to avoid putting in place effective safety measures.
âFacebook, time and time again, has shown it prefers profit over security,â Haugen said in an October 3 interview with â60 Minutesâ.
At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on October 5, Haugen, who joined Facebook in 2019 and was part of its civic disinformation team, urged federal lawmakers to regulate the company and ask for more documentation in order to do it effectively.
âI’m hereâ¦ because I think Facebook’s products harm children, fuel division and weaken our democracy,â Haugen told lawmakers. “Company management knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but will not make the necessary changes.”
In response, Zuckerberg took to Facebook to say his company has taken steps to consider the well-being of its users, such as an adjustment to the algorithm that pushes fewer viral videos and more content from. friends and family, and Haugen misinterpreted the company’s intentions.
“It’s disheartening to see this work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don’t care about,” Zuckerberg wrote.
This is far from the first time Facebook has had to play with calls for more regulations. In recent years, the company has come under fire for stoking democratic divisions amid the 2020 presidential election, impacting the mental health of young people, spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and even inciting genocide in Myanmar.
Many people who rely heavily on Facebook for their work or to stay in touch with friends and family, but who are also critical of the platform, are often at a dead end on how to effectively protest a social media giant with nearly 3 billion users.
âI would love to delete Facebook,â said Demi Rose, 61, a protester from San Mateo who manages several groups on the social media platform. “But I can’t. I have too much responsibility for this.”
Calling on Zuckerberg to step down as CEO is also a monumental challenge in itself. Rosenberg acknowledged that Zuckerberg has more voting power at the shareholder table, which is why she believes users need to come together and push for change. Global Exchange and Media Alliance recently formed the Union of Facebook Users, believing that users are primarily stakeholders of the platform and therefore should have a say in decisions made by the company, Rosenberg said. .
âWe understand that technically the board cannot fire Zuckerberg due to the inventory arrangement,â she said. “However, that doesn’t mean he can’t be coerced or forced to resign. And we hope to start this conversation.”