We, the undersigned organizations, lodge the following complaints against Facebook:
- Facebook is now the biggest corporate lobbying spender in the U.S.
- Facebook set up a dark money group, American Edge, to influence lawmakers and voters.
- Facebook has spent years lobbying against privacy protection laws around the world, such as the General Data Protection Regulation.
- Facebook’s algorithm suppressed stories from progressive news outlets.
- Facebook took down Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s ads about breaking up the company.
- Facebook’s political ad library, a key accountability mechanism, is insufficient and hard to use.
- The combined lobbying expenditures of Facebook and Google significantly exceed the total lobbying expenditures by the U.S. news industry, making both platforms formidable opponents to traditional media when it comes to issues such as Facebook using regular news sources without reimbursing them.
- Despite pledging to suspend political donations in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, Facebook quietly donated $50,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which is actively advocating for voter suppression laws around the country.
MONOPOLIZATION OF MARKETS
- The Federal Trade Commission, along with 46 states, DC, and Guam, launched an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook over the acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp — accusing Facebook of holding monopolistic power in the U.S. social networking market and seeking to break it up.
- Facebook abuses its role as a gatekeeper by charging advertisers high prices for access to the digital economy and has been accused of illegally fixing prices to drive up costs for small businesses.
- Facebook has been lobbying Congress to change Section 230 to solidify its monopoly power and crush competition from more decentralized platforms.
DATA SECURITY LAPSES
- Facebook has long been and remains vulnerable to hacking, phishing, malware, and data theft.
- Facebook failed to protect users’ privacy in a 2018 breach of 30 million accounts.
- Facebook admitted that it mistakenly stored hundreds of millions of passwords of Facebook and Instagram users in unencrypted plaintext as far back as 2012.
- Facebook has not notified more than 530 million users whose details were exposed on a hacker forum in 2019 and has no plans to do so, according to company representatives.
- Instagram was hacked in 2017, exposing millions of phone numbers and leading to a searchable database of celebrity contacts.
- WhatsApp, over its lifetime, has been the subject of numerous hacks, security failures, and security design flaws.
- From 2010 to 2018, Facebook granted access to users’ private messages, address book contents, and private posts to more than 150 third parties including Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo, Netflix, and Spotify.
- Some of Facebook’s top-rated apps were caught transmitting identifying information to dozens of advertising and internet tracking companies, using an HTTP referrer that exposed the user’s identity and sometimes their friends’ identities.
- Facebook entered into a consent decree in 2011 in which it promised not to violate its own privacy policies, but the company broke its promises over and over again.
- Facebook admitted that an app related to Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, by exploiting their friendship connection to the users who sold their data via the app.
- The Obama presidential campaign used a common Facebook developer API – the same one used to access the data for Cambridge Analytica – to create a Facebook app that could capture the personal data not only of the app user, but also of all that person’s friends.
- Facebook enlisted contractors to generate transcripts of users’ private audio chats.
- Facebook tracks non-members through cookies.
- Several Facebook apps sent users’ health data — including blood pressure and ovulation status — to the company without informed consent.
- WhatsApp shares user data and metadata with Facebook and its affiliates.
- Facebook’s mobile app reveals users’ location to the company, even if the user does not “check in” and if the user has configured all relevant settings in the app to keep their location as private as possible.
- Facebook’s privacy settings are overly complex and confusing, and require users to opt-out of data surveillance.
- Facebook fails to be transparent with users about what data is collected, how it is used, and what measures are in place to prevent it from being abused.
ENABLING GOVERNMENT INTRUSIONS
- Facebook data was accessed in the National Security Administration’s mass-surveillance PRISM program.
- Facebook has not fulfilled promises to protect users’ communication from corporate and government surveillance with default end-to-end encryption on all private communications.
HARMS TO ADVERTISERS
- Facebook misled paying advertisers with inaccurate metrics the company knew to be inflated.
- 80% of the clicks on Facebook’s ads were clicks by bots, despite Facebook claiming that most clicks were real users.
- As many as 40% of “likes” of company pages are suspected to be fake.
HARMS TO EMPLOYEES
- Many of Facebook’s content moderators are low-paid contractors who face unrealistic expectations, harsh working conditions, and constant exposure to disturbing content, including graphic violence, animal abuse, and child pornography.
- Some content moderators have reported posttraumatic stress disorder stemming from lack of access to counseling, coupled with unforgiving expectations and the violent content they are assigned to review.
- A software bug exposed the personal details of 1,000 Facebook workers involved in reviewing and removing terrorism content, and their profiles likely were viewed by potential terrorists in groups such as ISIS, Hezbollah, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
HARMS TO CHILDREN
- Facebook set up a market research program to spy on teenagers and young adults between the ages of 13 and 35 to get data on their app usage, browsing history, search history, location history, personal messages, photos, videos, emails, and Amazon order history. It only shut down the program once it was exposed by the press.
- Instagram’s location tracking services likely violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
- Facebook gathered data on children to gain psychological and behavioral insights.
HARMS TO USERS
- Facebook has failed to police merchandise scams on its platform.
- Facebook misappropriated users’ names and likenesses in advertisements.
- Facebook conducted emotional manipulation studies on its platform without users’ knowledge or consent.
- Studies show that Facebook makes people feel worse about themselves.
HATE AND DISCRIMINATION
- Facebook intentionally amplifies hate and disinformation, because that content generates the most engagement.
- Official information about COVID-19 safety and vaccines is reaching fewer Black people on Facebook compared to other demographic groups.
- Facebook’s hate-speech rules promote and protect white supremacy, while at the same time suppressing the voices of racial justice activists and organizers.
- Facebook’s recommendation and moderation algorithms fuel right-wing extremism and leave Black and Brown activists vulnerable to racist threats and violence.
- A U.S. agency investigating Facebook for racial bias in hiring and promotions has designated the probe as “systemic,” according to attorneys for three job applicants and a manager who claim the company discriminated against them.
- When presented with internal research that some of Instagram’s moderation algorithms were racially biased, Facebook shut down researchers at the company from digging further and blocked them from testing new rules to combat racial bias.
- For more than a year, Zuckerberg stridently defended Holocaust deniers posting on Facebook before reversing course.
- Facebook discriminated against women job seekers by targeting job ads to men.
- Facebook discriminated against older job seekers by targeting job ads to younger people.
- Facebook’s ad platforms facilitated housing discrimination through targeted advertising, which allowed advertisers to target or exclude specific audiences from campaigns.
- Facebook’s advertising platform may be inherently discriminatory, since ad delivery is influenced by how often specific demographics interact with specific types of advertising — even if they are not explicitly determined by the advertiser.
- Facebook acknowledged that its algorithms help create media echo chambers and limit users’ exposure to ideologically discordant viewpoints.
- 430 Facebook pages – followed by 45 million people – were found to be spreading false information about COVID-19 and vaccinations, despite a promise by Facebook that no user or company should directly profit from false information about COVID-19.
- In the 2016 election, Russia used Facebook to disseminate election disinformation, specifically targeting Black voters. At least 470 Facebook accounts were created by the Russians during the campaign, and just six of them generated content that was shared at least 340 million times.
- Facebook’s newsworthiness exemption has allowed elected officials who are conspiracy theorists and white supremacists to gain power and mobilize thousands of people to spread disinformation.
- Facebook failed to slow the spread of Trump’s false claims of voter fraud and did nothing at all to prevent people from engaging with this toxic content.
- Despite vowing in August 2020 to take action against militant and extremist groups, Facebook allowed them to delegitimize the election, promote violence, and organize the Capitol siege. Some of these groups are still thriving on the platform.
- Facebook’s executives refuse to implement measures that would curb disinformation if those measures hurt the company’s bottom line. For example, Facebook rolled back a change made to its news feed algorithm that boosted authoritative new sources, despite internal calls to make it a permanent feature.
- The chairman of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said Facebook played a “determining role” in the Rohingya genocide.
- Despite repeated concerns from Facebook’s own employees, the company continues to allow image advertising that whitewashes the Chinese government’s genocide against Uyghars in Xinjiang region.
- Parts of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are being illegally sold on Facebook, including national forests and land reserved for indigenous peoples, and the company refuses to block the ads.
- Facebook set up a cryptocurrency called Libra to serve as a private, global currency that would enable Facebook to insert itself into commercial transactions everywhere in the world. This portended massive consumer surveillance, threatened to facilitate consumer rip offs, and posed real risks to countries’ ability to manage their own currencies and financial systems.
- Facebook temporarily banned Australian users from sharing news articles on its site in an attempt to bully Australian lawmakers.
- Facebook’s lack of transparent and consistent content moderation policies especially around the term “Zionist” has led users that are critical of the Israeli government to experience deleted posts and blocked accounts.
- Facebook has profited off everything from fake cancer cures, to election lies, to ads for military tactical gear to extremists after the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol.
- Governments and independent watchdog groups around the world have consistently had to intervene to compel Facebook to enforce its own policies on videos and livestreams depicting violence, war crimes, hate crimes, rape, child abuse, and extralegal executions.
- Facebook used a complicated series of shell companies and tax havens to avoid paying billions of dollars in corporate taxes, and currently owes the U.S. more than $9 billion.
Accordingly, we are calling for the immediate breakup of the company; for the company to pay its fair share and all taxes it owes; and for new legislation, as well as tougher regulation and enforcement, to end these and future abuses.
Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE)
American Economic Liberties Project (AELP)
Data for Black Lives
Fight for the Future
Liberation in a Generation