Considered the largest annual gathering of progressive organizers, candidates and grassroots activists, Netroots Nation is seen as an opportunity for people to strategize and engage ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. But a new addition to this year’s conference raised concerns from some attendees.
Led by the Facebook Users Union organizers, attendees raised concerns about Facebook and its parent company Meta having anything to do with the progressive gathering.
While Facebook and its parent company Meta have come under fire in recent years for numerous violations, the platform recently handed over private messages in an abortion prosecution case in Nebraska. Earlier this month, Media Matters reported the platform earned money from advertisements filled with misinformation about “abortion pill reversal.”
Netroots Nation attendees entered the area around the Meta both to the call and response chant, “When abortion rights are under attack, what do we do…stand up, fight back.”
Brittany Williams, Facebook Users Union’s organizing director, challenged Netroots Nation to do better by aligning with their alleged values in seeking sponsorships and support.
“Meta should not be welcomed in any progressive space when they aid in genocide in the Global South,” Williams said in a statement. “They are accused of human trafficking in Kenya and share data with police to criminalize their users.”
Speaking with NewsOne, Williams said the action is a call-in to the Netroots leadership, given that many people gathered are actively working to protect people from being persecuted for having abortions.
“Facebook should not feel comfortable in any progressive space that says they’re fighting for the rights of people,” Williams said. “Facebook should not be welcome or comfortable in our space.”
Williams stressed that this was an opportunity for Netroots Nation to build with organizers and be accountable for inviting an organization into the space that is working against many of the issues progressives are trying to address.
“We are gathering to share resources; we are gathering to share lessons learned,” Williams said. “We always have to be in solidarity. Not with just the oppressed people in the U.S. But we must always keep our gaze on the global South and find solidarity and ways to connect and show up.”
The Facebook Users Union seeks to organizers site users to hold the platform accountable for issues like hate, disinformation and targeting of communities in the U.S. and abroad. Facebook also recently approved ads calling for ethnic violence in Kenya before the country’s election.
“When we’re talking about big tech companies, it’s time for us to unite,” Williams said. “It’s time for us to really, really take our collective power seriously.”
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