The reality television star Kim Kardashian West, actor Mark Ruffalo and several other celebrities said Tuesday that they are “freezing” their Facebook and Instagram accounts for one day to protest the spread of hate speech and misinformation on those platforms.
The protest, which will happen Wednesday, is part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, a coalition of civil rights groups, including the NAACP, Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, that led a monthlong advertising boycott against Facebook in July following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police. More than 1,200 companies joined that boycott, including big brands such as Unilever, Verizon, Adidas and Ford.
That coalition announced Monday that it was launching “a coordinated week of action on Instagram this week,” including “a one-day freeze on Instagram sharing as well as a weeklong series of posts … calling out Facebook for its role in inciting violence, spreading racism and hate, and contributing to electoral disinformation.”
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The protest first gained widespread attention with a tweet from Kardashian West, who has one of the largest followings on Instagram and often gets paid to promote products on her account. She has said she’s been offered as much as $1 million for a single post.
“I love that I can connect directly with you through Instagram and Facebook, but I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation – created by groups to sow division and split America apart – only to take steps after people are killed,” she tweeted.
– only to take steps after people are killed. Misinformation shared on social media has a serious impact on our elections and undermines our democracy. Please join me tomorrow when I will be “freezing” my Instagram and FB account to tell Facebook to #StopHateForProfit.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) September 15, 2020
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the protest.
Sacha Baron Cohen, an actor and comedian who has been an outspoken critic of social media companies, also tweeted his support of the protest.
“Facebook – stop spreading the hate, lies and conspiracies that inflame our societies!” he wrote.
Whether a one-day boycott will have any tangible effect on Facebook is very much in doubt. Facebook has been the subject of various boycotts for years, though few have demonstrated any long-term effect on the company. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign launched earlier this year convinced many big-name advertisers to pause their spending on the platform, but even that did little to hit the company’s business.
The threat of the advertising boycott caused a minor drop in Facebook’s share price at the end of June that recovered by the time the boycott started in July.
Dylan Byers is a senior media reporter for NBC News based in Los Angeles.