40+ organizations say clearest path for lawmakers to reduce Facebook’s harm is to ban the data harvesting & surveillance practices that fuel Big Tech’s harmful algorithms
As Congress debates how best to address the dominance and harm of Facebook in the wake of whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony, a group of 40+ human rights organizations have launched HowToStopFacebook.org, a major new campaign that will drive emails and calls to legislators demanding:
- A full Congressional investigation into Facebook’s harms, using subpoena power
- A real Federal data privacy law that makes it illegal for companies like Facebook and YouTube to collect the enormous amount of data they use to power their harmful and personalized recommendation algorithms. The campaign page calls for a law “strong enough to end Facebook’s current business model.”
The campaign page, built by Fight for the Future, features a stunning animation from designer Vasjen Katro, and the 40+ participating organizations include Accountable Tech, Article 19, Center for Digital Democracy, FairPlay, Global Voices, Media Justice, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Presenté, Public Knowledge, United We Dream, Ranking Digital Rights, SumOfUs, Win Without War, and the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center.
“The problem with companies like Facebook and YouTube is not that they host user generated content, it’s that they use surveillance-driven algorithms to pick and choose what content goes viral and what content no one sees, in order to keep us all on the platform clicking and scrolling to maximize advertising revenue,” said Evan Greer (she/her) director of Fight for the Future, “The enormous amount of data that these companies harvest about all of us is the fuel supply that powers these harmful algorithms. It’s challenging to regulate algorithms directly, but lawmakers can cut off the fuel supply for Facebook’s destructive machine by enacting a real Federal data privacy law strong enough to effectively kill surveillance capitalism as a business model.”
“Facebook’s surveillance capitalist business model is fundamentally incompatible with basic human rights, and disproportionately harms Black and brown communities by silencing our voices while artificially amplifying racist and harmful content,” said Myaisha Hayes (she/her), Campaign Strategies Director of Media Justice, “Facebook’s surveillance machine is putting our communities and our democracy in danger. It’s time for lawmakers to cut off their fuel supply by passing a strong data privacy law.”
“Congress could take a massive step to reduce Facebook’s power and influence if it passed a strong, comprehensive privacy law now. Facebook, as well as other tech companies, have shown that when given the opportunity, they will exploit consumers’ data rather than protect it,” said Sara Collins, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge. “The harms described by Ms. Haugen are fueled by unrestrained data collection and data use. A federal privacy law that addresses collection and use, rather than relies on outdated notions of notice and choice, would begin to rectify the power imbalance between internet users and tech companies.”