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Groups Call Out Facebook’s Litany of Abuses at Tech Giant’s Federal Lobbying HQ

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public interest groups led by Public Citizen gathered today in front of Facebook’s federal lobbying headquarters in Penn Quarter to demand accountability for the company’s litany of abuses, failures, and betrayals.

The groups listed more than 70 grievances against Facebook that included improper political interference, privacy violations, egregious data security lapses, clear monopolization of markets, facilitating discrimination, spreading hate and misinformation, a pattern of global lawlessness, as well as harms to users, children, advertisers, and even the company’s own employees.

The complaints were displayed on signage hung on the exterior walls of Facebook’s lobbying office. Accountable Tech, Action Center on Race and the Economy, American Economic Liberties Project, Data for Black Lives, Decode Democracy, Fight for the Future, Kairos Fellows, Liberation in a Generation, MediaJustice, and Public Citizen signed the document.

“Facebook’s ongoing operations, let alone expansionist designs, are incompatible with the functioning of a democratic society. The company has too much political power, too much surveillance capacity, too little regard for its users, too little respect for communities of color and oppressed groups around the world, and far, far too little self-restraint. It’s time – past time – for Facebook to be broken up, and for the broken-up pieces and the industry to be subjected to meaningful regulation that forces Big Tech companies to find a new business model that does not rely on intrusive surveillance of users.”

  • Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen

“Hardly a day goes by when Facebook doesn’t make headline news for deeply problematic behavior – from spying on kids, to facilitating discrimination, to playing a ‘determining role’ in the Rohingya genocide. For too long, money and influence have allowed Facebook to inflict immeasurable harm without consequence, but we know that the power of the people is greater than the people in power. Together, we are united in our fight to hold Facebook accountable, and we urge the current employees at Facebook to join our efforts and resign.”

  • Rishi Bharwani, director of partnerships and policy, Accountable Tech

“The rise and reach of Big Tech disproportionately hurts people of color, and Facebook really epitomizes today’s oppression economy. From fueling racial and gender discrimination to hoarding economic and political power, companies like Facebook need to be held accountable through policy choices that confront their harm.”

  • Jeremie Greer, co-executive director, Liberation in a Generation

“Palestinians use platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share directly with people of conscience worldwide their experiences living under occupation and apartheid. Facebook working with Israeli authorities to censor Palestinians by removing content and disabling accounts that document Israeli police brutality and war crimes is shameful. Facebook’s actions directly impact the ability to take action in solidarity with the Palestinian people, while the Israeli government posts its propaganda with impunity. It is past time Facebook is held accountable for the harm it causes communities of color across the globe.”

  • Ramah Kudaimi, deputy director of Crescendo, Action Center on Race and the Economy

“In prioritizing its profits over the health of our democracy, Facebook has amplified lies and conspiracy theories to fuel a disinformation crisis that now threatens all of us. The stakes for the future of our democracy are simply too high to allow Facebook to continue to dodge accountability.”

  • Daniel G. Newman, president, Decode Democracy

“Facebook’s influence goes far beyond its role as a social media platform. From election interference to profiting from disinformation to allowing the escalation of harm against Black and brown communities, violence that happens on Facebook inevitably has offline consequences. If Facebook and its shareholders are as people-oriented as they tout, then they need to take these grievances coming from the people seriously and fix what they’ve broken.”

  • Jelani Drew, campaign director, Kairos

“Facebook’s surveillance capitalist business model is fundamentally incompatible with basic human rights and democracy. Social media has the potential to uplift and empower by giving more people a voice than ever before in history, but by harvesting our data and using it to manipulate us for profit, Facebook has turned that dream into a nightmare. Now, instead of being a tool for social movements fighting for justice and liberation, Facebook has become a machine used to advance tyranny, corruption, and greed. By using algorithms that are optimized to generate ad revenue, they amplify some of the worst content on the internet, while at the same time actively silencing and suppressing the voices of marginalized people, activists, artists, and creators. There is no silver bullet legislative solution that will ‘fix’ Facebook. We need to break its monopoly power, end its stranglehold on the internet, and build something new.”

  • Evan Greer, deputy director, Fight for the Future

“This long list of issues represents the many years of inaction and half-steps by Facebook and more importantly is a testimony to the deep harm the company continues to inflict on communities it claims to listen to and care about. We need real leadership and institutional changes at Facebook to put community safety over profit, and we welcome the intervention of lawmakers to finally undercut the power these unaccountable platforms abuse, risking our lives and the integrity of our democracy.”

  • Erin Shields, national field organizer, MediaJustice

“Facebook poses an existential threat to our civil rights, economic liberties, and democracy itself. It is a corporation built to surveil users, sell intimate data, and supercharge discrimination, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. It cannot be reformed. Congress and Biden must act now to break it up.”

  • Morgan Harper, director of policy and advocacy, American Economic Liberties Project