For the month of September, we’re hitting pause on Facebook.
During the next thirty days the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) is boycotting Facebook. We will stop all activity to raise awareness of the platform’s role in threatening peace and democracy.
We say ENOUGH! Facebook must be held to account and reformed to curb disinformation, human rights violations and the warmongering it has become a space for. Disinformation and fake news stories on Facebook have reached unprecedented numbers, at unprecedented speed. The largest-ever study on fake news, conducted by data scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), shows that false information on social media spreads faster and reaches more people than true information.
We can no longer turn a blind eye to how Facebook facilitates wide-ranging and pervasive human rights abuses that threaten all people, but disproportionately affect marginalized groups, such as women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual (LGBTQIA+) people, and other minority groups.
We use the following examples from across the world to illustrate the need to raise our voices against Facebook’s inaction:
- In Somalia, social media platforms have been used by violent extremist groups to broadcast propaganda and recruit supporters.
- In Afghanistan, Cameroon, and Iraq, armed parties (including non-state groups, such as the Taliban, the Anglophone separatists, and ISIS) rely on social media to recruit combatants, coordinate movements, and promote glorified narratives of the war.
- In South Sudan, social media was manipulated to incite violence and conflict during the 2013 crisis. A study has shown that three-quarters of the researched Facebook accounts were “deeply involved in misinforming the public through fabricating facts” to fuel ethnic tensions.
- In the U.S., Facebook has been a platform for inflammatory and racist comments by police officers, inciting the use of violence. Facebook fails to protect Black activists from harassment from hate groups, while simultaneously blocking Black users for speaking out against racism.
- In Myanmar, despite warnings from experts and civil society, Facebook did not curb hate speech and incitement of violence against Myanmar’s Muslim community creating an enabling environment for the genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar.
- In Malaysia a Facebook user livestreamed the gang rape of a woman which Facebook declined to remove for more than three weeks, garnering hundreds of views. As violence against women is increasingly recognized as a “global health concern of epidemic proportions”, it is unacceptable for Facebook to tolerate content that promotes sexual and gender-based violence, and give a platform to rapists and violent sexual offenders.
Facebook must take responsibility for the hateful narratives, extremist and misogynistic views and for the incitements of violence being widely spread across its global platforms. It must take clear and unequivocal action against the spread of hate and violence.
Our Call to Action:
- We call on Facebook to strengthen its accountability and fact-checking mechanisms, and to ensure immediate removal of false content that incites violence.
- We call on companies to remove their advertising from Facebook to protest the platform’s complicity in promoting violence.
- We call on governments to adopt robust accountability regulations for Facebook to prevent the dissemination of fake news, hate speech and violent messages in their countries.
- We call on civil society organizations, governments, the UN, and all other actors, to call Facebook’s contributions to promoting war and violence, demand greater accountability and join our #FacebookPromotesViolence campaign to spread awareness about the use of misinformation and hate speech.
Please contact the GNWP team at email@example.com for any questions or to join our efforts in transforming social media into a safe space for information sharing, and discussions that promote peace, justice, and equality.