Facebook and Instagram boycott: why celebrities including Kim Kardashian are freezing their social media accounts - and #StopHateforProfit explained

Kim Kardashian West has joined a growing group of celebrities boycotting Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 11:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 2:46 pm
Kim Kardashian West is one of many celebrities boycotting social media on Wednesday (Getty Images)

The reality TV star cited misinformation and hate speech as the reason for her protest, tweeting, “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 and a number of other celebrities are participating in the #StopHateforProfit campaign, organised by civil rights activists.

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The group - which also includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jennifer Lawrence - will all refrain from posting on their social media channels on Wednesday 16 September.

Why are celebrities freezing their accounts?

Launched in June, Stop Hate For Profit says it is looking to hold social media companies accountable for allowing “hate on their platforms.”

Stop Hate For Profit demands that the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram “prioritise people over profit”, citing the role which Facebook played in a shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during which two demonstrators were shot dead.

Suspect Kyle Rittenhouse reportedly responded to calls made by self-styled militia, the Kenosha Guard, on Facebook to defend the streets of the city, which was experiencing protests in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed black man by police.

The movement has marked 14 to 18 September as a week of action, encouraging celebrities and regular users to take a number of steps against practices used by the social media platforms that they deem harmful.

On Wednesday, users were encouraged to post the following, “Facebook ignores hate & disinformation on their site. This is not an “operational mistake.” It is a deliberate decision to put profits over people and democracy. That’s why I am “freezing” my Instagram for 24 hours. Join me. Tell Facebook to #StopHateForProfit.”

The week of action will conclude with participants calling for fellow social media users to vote and “demand that Facebook stop undermining our democracy.”

Has the movement been successful in the past?

Since it launched in summer, the Stop Hate For Profit movement claims it has garnered support from 1,100 companies, including major corporations and small businesses, as well as over 100 nonprofit charities.

The group claims that its action has prompted the pulling of millions of dollars worth of adverts from Facebook.

It has also pushed Facebook to make some steps, including the creation of a senior role to oversee civil rights and the establishment of a dedicated team to study algorithmic racial bias.

It claims that Mark Zuckerberg continues to fail in taking issues seriously.

A statement from the group read, “Facebook’s attitude towards seriously addressing how their algorithms push hate, violent conspiracy theories, and disinformation is transparently ‘inauthentic.’

“Mr Zuckerberg treats meetings and dialogue as outcomes. He puts more effort into obfuscation, lobbying, and distribution of misleading talking points than seriously addressing the deadly consequences of his choice to profit from hate.”

Which celebrities have joined the movement?

Kardashian West (who has 188 million Instagram followers, and a Facebook page liked by more than 29,000,000 people) is one of many celebrities joining the movement.

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and actor Mark Ruffalo have also posted in support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, as have actor Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Katy Perry.

Perry wrote on Instagram, "I can't sit idly by while these platforms turn a blind eye to groups and posts spreading hateful disinformation.”

Actor Ashton Kutcher also joined, saying, "These tools were not built to spread hate [and] violence.”