I’m proud to say that 350.org has decided to join the #StopHateForProfit campaign and we’ll be cancelling all our Facebook ads for the month of July. You might still see our posts, but we won’t be sending a single dollar (or euro) to the company. Our team’s decision was a fairly easy one, as many of us have witnessed Facebook’s destructive actions for a long time. They actively make provisions to allow racist, hate-filled and inaccurate information. If you want to know more, I highly recommend you check out the Stop Hate for Profit site, as well as the recent reporting by Emily Atkin around Facebook’s support of climate deniers.
What’s absolutely true is that we cannot just take a stand against Facebook’s policies around climate misinformation and not also take a stand on their positions around hate and racial justice.
“Whether it’s divesting from fossil fuels or defunding the police, this day and age demands that we put our money where our future is. We stand in solidarity with the “Stop The Hate” campaign by boycotting paid ads with Facebook as they perpetuate racism, climate skepticism and violence. 350.org is committed to building a multi-racial movement to tackle the climate crisis, meaning our work of dismantling white supremacy is the same as our work fighting for a just recovery from the climate crisis. We call on the entire climate movement to reckon with our collective stake in dismantling white supremacy, and align its resources with these values.” Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, 350.org North America Director
350.org has been a digitally focused organization since our earliest days, and what’s at the core of our digital strategy is the belief that the myriad of online tools we use should support building a strong, diverse movement. Facebook ads are just one way that we can reach new audiences, but they will never replace the deep work of running campaigns and building movements. Our social media strategy is one that prioritizes authentic storytelling to engage people and spark connections. We’ve also actively worked to decentralize our digital tools and tactics so that people all over the world can organize their own communities to take part in the climate fight. The long hard work of shifting narratives and channeling our power for change will take more than a few clicks. At 350.org we want people to sign petitions – yes – AND we want them to actively get involved with their local chapter. The only way to tackle the climate crisis is through working collectively. Facebook ads do not build movements – people and relationships do.
Hopefully, this July can also be a reminder for all of us in the sphere of digital organizing and social change to reflect on the tools we use. Audre Lorde said “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” As a Social Media Manager I think about this on a regular basis. There’s many organizations, even environmental groups, pushing Facebook to change and Facebook is making some small concessions. At the same time, Facebook also is being smug in their belief that advertisers will come back. As Bill McKibben pointed out recently, there’s a lot of similarities between the oil industry and Facebook – at the core of their work is extraction (whether it’s oil or our data). To really bring change to Facebook, it’s going to take a lot more campaigning.
This is also a time of deep visioning. Just as communities are building renewable energy projects and showcasing what new sustainable systems can achieve – so with digital activism should we be reimagining the tools we want to use and the ways we can spark change. Tech expert Richard Forno recently stated that “the future internet will reflect future humankind.” While we’re looking at a world beyond fossil fuels, let’s also imagine what an internet looks like that values truth and justice.