Facebook announced with much fanfare yesterday that the company had scrubbed 32 pages and accounts that they suspected “were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior.” But as it turns out, an event sponsored by one of the pages they deleted was for a perfectly legitimate and permitted protest being organized by local activistsin Washington, DC. According to the organizers, the event page was deleted because one one of the co-hosts was a page that Facebook suspected of being “inauthentic.”
The event had attractedthousands of interested Internet users, and has now been effectively squashed by Facebook’s purge, just weeks before the protest, giving organizers little time to regain momentum.
“Arbitrary mass censorship is not the solution for the challenges democracy faces in the digital age,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, “Calls for more censorship, whether they come from the left or right, pose a dangerous threat to legitimate freedom of speech and undermine the power of the Internet as a tool for people to organize, educate themselves, and challenge tyranny and corruption. Do we really want an Internet where giant tech companies like Facebook are the arbiters of what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fake’ and can censor whatever they want without oversight or accountability?”
“Dragnet censorship operations, whether related to copyright or political content, always come with serious unintended consequences, where legitimate content is taken down. Lawmakers who are concerned about the power that large tech companies have to spread misinformation should call for more transparency and more competition, not more censorship,” she continued, “One simple policy decision on the table right now is restoring net neutrality protections, which allow startups and small businesses to thrive and compete with giants like Twitter and Facebook, leading to more decentralization that makes coordinated misinformation campaigns much harder.”
Facebook has previously been exposed censoring content by groups on both the left and the right, as well as by marginalized communities. Fight for the Future condemns Facebook’s decision to censor a legitimate protest page because of a link to a single “inauthentic” account, and calls on the platform to cease any similar censorship plans, and instead focus on transparency initiatives to make it easier for Internet users to know who is paying for the content they’re seeing.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2018 Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, email@example.com
Organizations collectively representing more than 7 million people have collected over 300k signatures and will deliver to Microsoft CEO
A growing coalition of advocacy groups representing more than 7 million people are demanding that Microsoft cancel their contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and stop providing operational support for violence against immigrant families.
Earlier this year, Microsoft boasted online that Azure, a cloud computing service with deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification, was “mission critical” to ICE. Amid disturbing reports of widespread human rights abuses by ICE agents, including family separation and sexual assault, more than 300,000 people have signed petitions launched by Color Of Change, Mijente, Demand Progress, Sum Of Us, Fight for the Future, Center for Media Justice, Free Press Action Fund, MPower Change, Daily Kos, CREDO Action, Jobs With Justice, Presente.org and The Nation.
The coalition will hold a joint press conference and petition delivery at the Microsoft Redmond campus on July 26, 2018 to show solidarity with over 500 employees at Microsoft who have signed an open letter to CEO Satya Nadella expressing concern that the products of their labor are being used for violence against migrants and calling for an end to the contract. There will also be solidarity protests at Microsoft stores and offices across the country on July 26th.
Leaders from this coalition of organizations issued the following statements:
“Microsoft is providing a technological foundation for ICE’s work. They play a huge part in the ongoing family separation horror” said Jelani Drew, campaigner at Fight for the Future who launched this campaign. “It’s time for Microsoft to stop simply making statements condemning the violation of human rights, and start actually live by their word.”
“Microsoft is complicit in profiting from a violent mass incarceration and deportation scheme,” said Scott Roberts, Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change which launched this petition. “No child belongs in a cage, tent city, or juvenile detention center at any time or in any place. The act of separating and detaining families would not be possible without the massive bureaucratic and logistical machine behind it. It is not enough to simply speak symbolic words against these acts. Microsoft must take action in the one way that will make an actual impact, canceling the contract. We will hold any corporation accountable for their role in advancing Trump’s violence against our communities, and we will not stop they until heed the call of thousands of tech workers and people directly impacted by this crisis.”
“As long as Microsoft maintains its contract with ICE, they remain complicit in the brutality and racism of ICE. The company is gaining millions of dollars while families of color are torn apart and children sleep in cages. In the face of such inhumanity, the choice for Microsoft, and the many other tech companies which still work with ICE, is simple: They can either provide the infrastructure that supports the Trump administration’s destruction of our communities or they can take responsibility— following the lead of their own employees —and cancel their contract.” - Steven Renderos, Campaign Director, Center for Media Justice
“While ICE is keeping children in cages and dragging their feet on reuniting families, Microsoft is not only enabling ICE, they’re profiting off this human misery. Activists and Microsoft’s own employees have joined the rallying cry, ‘It’s time to divest from ICE,’” said Reuben Hayslett, a campaigner at Demand Progress. “There’s still time for CEO Satya Nadella to stand on the right side of history by not just denouncing ICE and its policies, but canceling their contract with ICE and refusing to outfit their operations with cloud computing services.”
Coworker.org has been conducting trainings and providing support for people in the tech industry who want to take action on workplace issues. Yana Calou of Coworker.org says “What we’re seeing in the tech industry is that, despite company efforts to downplay the scope and impact of government contract, employees remain very concerned about their companies’ roles in providing infrastructure for ICE and other agencies. At Microsoft, employees want answers – they still do not have basic internal transparency around the company’s ongoing projects, and they’re asking their company to lead on this human rights issue by canceling their contract with ICE.”
“Despite Microsoft’s supposedly progressive values, the company lends data and artificial intelligence capabilities to help ICE track down undocumented immigrants in their places of work, schools, and homes,” said Emma Pullman, lead campaign strategist at SumOfUs. “ICE is the same government agency responsible for tearing children as young as 3 months old away from their families and detaining them. And while Microsoft may defend itself by saying the company is not directly responsible for family separation and family detention, they are still helping ICE tear families apart. Microsoft executives need to take responsibility for their role in these egregious acts.”
“The technology Microsoft provides to ICE enables a cruel deportation machine that violates human rights,” said Free Press Action Fund Campaigner Lucia Martínez. “Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella must act with conscience and cancel Microsoft’s contract with ICE. He must stand in solidarity with his employees, hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and immigrant families that have been separated under ICE’s inhumane policy.”
“Caging children is a crime, not a business model. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, who continues to defend their contract with ICE will go down in history not as compassionate titan of industry, but as a profiteer. Tech executives either fail to grasp the power they have to stop this deportation machine or are too enticed by future riches to stop it.” said Marisa Franco, co-founder of the Latino activist organization Mijente. “That machine requires many gears to turn. If thousands more tech employees stand together with immigrant activists — if tech executives feel more internal pressure, while activists apply ever more external pressure — then we can bring the deportation machine to a grinding halt.”
“If Microsoft is truly morally outraged by ICE’s actions, it must walk the walk and stop profiting off of Donald Trump’s mass incarceration and deportation agenda,” said Nicole Regalado, campaign manager with CREDO Action. “Nadella has tried to brand himself as a CEO who puts 'empathy at the center of everything.’ This is his chance to prove it. Microsoft must cancel its contract – now.”
“Tech companies can no longer ignore the negative impacts of their work,” said a volunteer with Tech Workers Coalition. “Many social ills are exacerbated by the cutting-edge services they choose to sell to bad actors. The point shouldn’t be to pour charity onto those ills, it should be to evaluate whether or not work that is taken on by the company contributes to human suffering.”
“Hey, Satya Nadella, where do you want to go today? Will you continue your Faustian deal or be on the side of your values, workers, and customers? This is a torture-for-profit racket. Tech companies who support the inhumane policies of the Trump Administration have lost their moral compass and will be held responsible for the violence and suffering they accelerate and profit from,” said Matt Nelson, Executive Director of Presente.org. “No company should be in the business of caging children and families. If Microsoft continues down this treacherous, soulless path, it will lose the trust of thousands of its employees and millions of consumers.“
Nebraska Congressman claims to support an open Internet, but refuses to sign CRA resolution that would restore it
Digital rights group Fight for the Future has released a mock-up and launched a crowdfunding page to put up as many billboards as possible in the district of Rep Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), who just insulted his own constituents and small business owners in Nebraska by cosponsoring symbolic net neutrality legislation that can’t pass this Congress while refusing to sign on to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to reverse the FCC’s repeal––which already passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
A new poll released yesterday shows that wide margins of voters in battleground districts will strongly consider where a lawmaker stands on net neutrality when deciding who to vote for in midterm elections, making Rep Fortenberry’s decision not to support the CRA not only hypocritical but potentially very damaging heading into election season.
“Jeff Fortenberry betrayed you,” reads the billboard design, “He took $99,000 from ISPs and put them ahead of Nebraska businesses and Internet users.” It then provides his district office phone number and encourages viewers to call and ask why he won’t support the CRA to restore net neutrality.
“Representative Fortenberry must think his constituents are fools,” said Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Fight for the Future, “It’s insulting to ignore the overwhelming majority of voters, and thousands of small businesses, and pretend to support net neutrality while refusing to do the one thing in your power to save it. Politicians in Congress need to understand that Internet users are pissed off and paying extremely close attention. They won’t be fooled and they won’t be placated by empty actions. If Rep Fortenberry truly supports net neutrality, he should sign on to the CRA resolution to restore it. If not, we’re crowdfunding billboards to make sure his constituents know that he sold them out.”
Fight for the Future plans to put up as many billboards as possible in Rep Fortenberry’s district based on crowdfunding. If Rep Fortenberry does the right thing and signs on to the CRA, the funds will be used for billboards targeting other lawmakers who claim to support net neutrality while refusing to do anything to protect their constituents from ISP abuses.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 24, 2018 Contact: Josh Tabish, +1-778-990-1218, firstname.lastname@example.org
Late Tuesday Rep. Don Young of Alaska issued a statement announcing he will not sign the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution discharge petition to help overturn the FCC’s net neutrality repeal. The announcement comes hours after an Anchorage-based business owner went public with news the Congressman had promised to sign the CRA discharge petition during a one-on-one meeting in late June.
The following statement can be attributed to Sarah Roth Gaudette, Fight for the Future’s Executive Director:
“Congressman Young’s statement this evening is outrageous. I was stunned to see him trot out those tired, old ISP talking points, and unapologetically break his promise to sign the net neutrality CRA – a promise he made to an Alaska business owner that travelled nearly 10,000 miles to speak with him face-to-face in DC. Nothing in his statement justifies breaking his promise, and Alaskan Internet users are going to be furious. It’s clear Congressman Young has been bought and paid for by the country’s ISP lobby. Hell has no fury like an Internet scorned, and we’ll make sure any member of Congress who tries to pull a stunt like this pays the price before the November election.”
Fight for the Future is helping organize an emergency protest outside Congressman Young’s Anchorage office tomorrow at 5pm local time. The group is encouraging Alaska small businesses and Internet users to join tomorrow and call his DC office via BattleForTheNet.com.
Founder of Anchorage-based company CustomMousePad.com goes public after silence from Congressman’s office on pledge to help restore net neutrality
ANCHORAGE, AK – Local entrepreneur Jennie Stewart of CustomMousePad.com has decided to go public about a bombshell promise from Republican Congressman Don Young (AK-0) to sign the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution discharge petition to help restore net neutrality. The Congressman pledged to sign the CRA during a meeting with Stewart on Capitol Hill in June.If he follows through, he would become the second GOP House representative to sign the CRA to overturn the FCC’s repeal.
The promise came during a visit at the Congressman’s DC office during a “Day of Advocacy For Net Neutrality” hostedby a coalition of public interest organizations. Despite productive correspondence between Ms. Stewart and Rep Young’s office following the meeting, the Congressman’s team has since gone quiet and has yet to deliver on their commitment to sign the CRA. His office has not responded to calls from several journalists inquiring about the CRA.
Ms. Stewart then notified digital rights group Fight for the Future, who is today helping her go public with her story.
“The radio silence from Congressman Young’s office has made me pretty anxious. But he promised he would sign the CRA to restore net neutrality protections for Alaska businesses like mine, so I’m confident he’ll follow through,” said Jennie Stewart, founder of Custom Everything Inc. and CustomMousePad.com, “When he first said he’d sign the CRA I was thrilled. It was amazing to hear such a high-ranking member of Congress take such a strong, independent stance on this, and put the needs of his constituents ahead of giants like GCI and AT&T. But I’m afraid his silence means the telecom lobby got to him – and I really hope I’m wrong about that.”
“For Congressman Young, following his pledge to sign the net neutrality CRA is a no-brainer,” said Fight for the Future Executive Director, Sarah Roth-Gaudette, “He has the safest seat in the country, and can afford to stand up to the telecoms on this. Alaska businesses rely on net neutrality to reach customers for everything from sales to telemedicine and education, but they’re paying more money for less Internet than anywhere in the country. They simply cannot afford to be blocked, throttled, or charged new fees by ISPs. We hope Representative Young decides to follow through on his promise before Congress breaks for the August recess so he can be welcomed back to his district as an Internet hero.”
The CRA was recently passed in the Senate with a historic bipartisan vote of 52-47. The discharge petition currently has 175 co-signers including one other Republican. If 215 House reps sign the discharge petition, it will force a vote to restore strong net neutrality rules preventing blocking, throttling, and new fees online.