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Facebook Accused of Silencing Millions

National coalition of organizations denounces Facebook’s political advertising policy as restrictive, anti-immigrant, and silencing advocacy by select communities.
Los Angeles, CA — A national coalition of organizations representing immigrant, civil and human rights, faith communities, education and technology groups, is denouncing Facebook’s new advertising-buying policy which requires a social security number, a federal ID, and a residential address.  The policy has had an immediate chilling effect on immigrant communities, community non-profit organizations, and other disenfranchised communities.
Facebook’s definition of “political” ads is so broad that issues like “civil rights” and “economy” and “values” are being blocked from posting and require identification.
In mid-May more than 45 organizations called on Facebook via a letter to amend the incredibly broad new advertising-buying policy which has directly and indirectly impacted millions of undocumented Americans who live, work, and contribute positively to our nation’s strength.   
The policy may also restrict the voice of other Americans.  Eleven percent of Americans do not have government-issued photo identification cards, such as a driver’s license or a passport” according to Wendy Weiser of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. These communities include low-income individuals, formerly incarcerated African Americans, LGBTQ communities and youth who are in foster care.
The concerns addressed in the letter have not been addressed by Facebook to date.
All the while Facebook clamps down on legitimate and non-political advocacy by immigrants and non-profit organizations, it has featured paid advertising by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agency for the past few months.  The question must be asked:  which side is Facebook on?  The side of inhumane, cruel, and rogue deportation policies by the Trump Administration or the side of communities actively participating in the exchange of ideas, which includes advocacy to protect families against unlawful and rogue ICE and CBP actions.
Members of the coalition indicated they plan to step up their public efforts shaming Facebook until the policy is amended.
The following are comments for coalition members:
Isabel Sousa, Membership and Organizing Director, Florida Immigrant Coalition:
“After finally recognizing the severe negative impact their lack of transparency and data privacy has had on the United States, Facebook has responded by making it much harder for advocates of vulnerable communities to get our message across.  Facebook’s constantly evolving ad buying policies discriminate against immigrants based on their citizenship status, effectively silencing organizations that are led by already marginalized people. We demand that they rethink their processes and stop targeting immigrants.”
Angelica Salas, Executive Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA):
“Facebook’s one-size-fits-all policy for so-called ‘political advertising’ has effectively shut millions of voices out of the democratic process and public discourse on the most populous and influential social media platform.  The social media giant must face the fact immigrants and other communities are not the enemy.”
Cory Fischer, Communications Director, Bend the Arc Jewish Action:
“Facebook’s overly broad policy on what they call ‘political’ advertising has the chilling effect of silencing democratic discourse and threatens to prevent millions of immigrants from speaking out on issues that directly affect their lives. Facebook has previously mischaracterized our own immigration-focused ads, blocking them for ‘political’ content when in fact they are simply about critical issues. Facebook must immediately address these concerns and revise their advertising policy.”
Rashad Robinson, President, Color Of Change:
“Facebook’s latest political ad policy silences the voices of Black, immigrant, Muslim, LGBTQ and people who have legitimate critiques of racist government policies. To make matters worse, it does not stop dangerous and violent anti-immigrant forces at this critical moment—instead allowing them a bigger platform to spread lies and spew hate about immigrants for political gain. While we support closer monitoring of political ads that seek to misinform the public and suppress the vote, this new policy’s disparate impact smacks in the face of Facebook’s stated commitment to its Black and brown users. We will continue to push Facebook to end this policy and implement an impact assessment that includes input from groups fighting to secure justice for marginalized people.”
Nicole Regalado, Campaign Manager, CREDO:
“Facebook’s “show me your papers” policy will prevent the communities most surveilled and targeted by the Trump regime from fully participating in our democracy. With ICE locking up immigrant activists and the FBI targeting and attacking Black freedom fighters, a policy mandating a Social Security number and government ID to run political advocacy campaigns on the world’s largest social network would make it even harder and more dangerous for these communities to fight for their rights. Facebook should roll back this extreme policy immediately.”
Matt Nelson, Executive Director, Presente.org:
“Facebook already has a horrible reputation of compromising its users’ sensitive information, and its new ad policies would force users to give up even more personal information — blocking many Latinx people from fully engaging in the democratic process via Facebook’s platform. This is a reckless attempt to divert attention from the company’s fundamental security crisis. If Facebook continues down this cowardly, anti-social, dangerous path it will lose the trust of thousands of its employees and millions of consumers.”
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