Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian swear off Instagram — All You Need to Know about #StopHateForProfit campaign

Multiple global celebrities froze their accounts on Facebook and Instagram for a 24-hour period as a sign of protest against Facebook’s role in the spread of misinformation and hate speech.

FP Staff September 17, 2020 14:07:44 IST
Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian swear off Instagram — All You Need to Know about #StopHateForProfit campaign

Social media’s global standing seems to be crumbling in the present scenario. Days after Netflix released its exacting and eye-opening documentary Social Dilemma, noted celebrities across the world chose to speak up against platforms like Facebook and Instagram (both owned by Mark Zuckerberg).

However, their protests had little to do with the Netflix programme as much as it had to with Facebook’s repeated aversion to confront its unambiguous role in the spread of misinformation and (more dangerously) hate speech.

The way in which multiple global icons chose to express their contempt was to freeze their accounts on Facebook and Instagram for a 24-hour period, in which they’d neither post themselves nor share anyone else’s posts. Big names in the entertainment sector like Kim Kardashian West, Katy Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio backed the campaign titled #StopHateforProfit.

How it all began

The organisers behind #StopHateforProfit, including civil rights groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and Color Of Change, had previously led a campaign that got hundreds of brands and non-profits to join a Facebook advertising boycott in July.

As per an article in The Cut, Facebook’s chief operating officer Cheryl Sandberg, along with Zuckerberg, had launched a counter-initiative to placate these brands by finally agreeing to one of their listed demands, that of hiring “an executive with a background in civil rights work.”

The 24 hour-freeze campaign is a pressure tactic that’s being used by the non-profit Common Sense Media, which helped organise the campaign.

The issues at hand

Facebook, which earned nearly $70 billion in advertising revenue last year, is facing a reckoning over what critics call indefensible excuses for amplifying divisions, hate, and misinformation on their platforms.

“We are quickly approaching one of the most consequential elections in American history," The Associated Press reported the organisers as saying. “Facebook’s unchecked and vague ‘changes’ are falling dangerously short of what is necessary to protect our democracy.”

The movement also singled out for criticism Facebook's handling of online material ahead of the shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin last month. Zuckerberg, also the company’s CEO, had said the company made a mistake in not removing sooner a page belonging to a militia group that called for armed civilians to enter the town. It only took the page down after an armed white teenager killed two people following violent protests sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black.

The other probable stimulus for the campaign may have been a tell-all Buzzfeed article that carried a damaging report based on data provided by a former employee of Facebook. The article clearly stated that Facebook “ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world.”

Changes demanded

One of the primary concerns, as per the organisers, is that the companies are shirking from accountability. To curb that, the campaign demands that Facebook establish a third-party company that facilitates regular checks on “identity-based hate and misinformation” that are available on the public domain. It also emphasises the need to remove groups spreading white-supremacist ideology, antisemitism, anti-vaccination conspiracies, climate change denialism, and false information about voting.

Celebrity Speak

Kardashian-West, Perry, DiCaprio are only a few of the many voices taking part in a 24-hour Instagram “freeze”.

#StopHateforProfit asked people to put up a message highlighting what they called the damage Facebook does but otherwise refrain from posting on Instagram for a day. “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,” Kardashian West posted on her Instagram account on Tuesday.

See what Kim Kardashian-West said

Ashton Kutcher, Mark Ruffalo, Kerry Washington, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Foxx, and Sacha Baron Cohen were among about two dozen Hollywood stars and celebrity influencers supporting the campaign, the organisers said.

See the tweets

DiCaprio said he was standing with the civil rights groups to call “on all users of Instagram and Facebook to protest the amplification of hate, racism, and the undermining of democracy on those platforms.”

The Effect and Facebook’s reaction

Facebook has declined to comment but pointed to recent announcements about what it's doing to limit the reach on its platform of groups that support violence and its efforts to protect the US election in November.

With 188 million followers, Kardashian-West is one of the most influential people on Instagram, and support from her and other big names for the boycott saw Facebook shares slide in aftermarket trading late Tuesday. They were down 1.7 percent ahead of the market open on Wednesday.

On more general terms, this social media boycott is being hailed by many, while some see it as an ineffective gesture that might slide off people’s memories quickly.


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