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Big Wigs of Hollywood took part in Freeze Protest: Understand why it is happening right now 

How was this move related to boycotting US Elections?

More than a dozen celebrities froze their Facebook and Instagram account for 24 hours on Wednesday. It was a protest against Mark Zuckerberg’s company for not doing enough against the hate speech and disinformation. Kim Kardashian, who is 6th most followed celebrity across the world along with Hollywood actors Robert Downey Junior, Leonardo Dicaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Lawrence, Orlando Bloom, Kerry Washington Katy Perry, Sacha Baron Cohen and more abstained from uploading anything on Instagram and Facebook on Wednesday.

Read more: Is right-wing nationalism a threat to democracy

The Stop Hate for Profit Campaign, a coalition of 9 civil-rights groups that include the Color of Change, the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, organized this protest and demanded more internal and third-party oversight on the contents of Facebook.

The Stop Hate for Profit Campaign has previously persuaded many companies to temporarily stop advertising on Facebook. While some companies stopped advertising for the month of July 2020, others stopped it indefinitely.

Reports say that the freeze protest is one of the several protests that are taking place during the Week of Action of Stop Hate for Profit campaign to keep up the pressure.

Why now?

Facebook has been long criticized, scolded and investigated for not being able to effectively screen massive misinformation campaigns, address privacy concerns, stop promoting hate speech, and address data manipulation practices. But there hasn’t been substantive changes as the power of Facebook has grown.

Although it was not mentioned in the campaign, the protest has come 2 days after reports suggested that Facebook was not able to stop political manipulation of the platform by governments around the world. A scathing memo written by an ex-Facebook employee on her last day at the Facebook said that the social media company ignored or were slow to act on fake accounts that are used to undermine elections and political affairs in several countries.

Impact of Protest

As per the media reports, millions of dollars were taken out from Facebook’s stock within minutes after model and actor, Kim Kardashian West announced about her protest.

Role of Facebook in the US Elections 2020

The organizers of the protest fear that a highly polarized audience in social media can increase the potential for spreading discriminatory content and misinformation ahead of the US Presidential election later this year. It is not rocket science to understand how much influence social media has in elections all over the world.

During the 2016 US Presidential elections, Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal data of the users and used it for political campaigns. The data provided assistance and analytics to Ted Cruz, a candidate for Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination, and Donald Trump.

We know how political parties use the platform to reach their voters by uploading videos, images and writing texts. On numerous times, politicians have used their hate speech to attract voters.

As the outreach of social media is huge and it is easy to predict the psychology of the user, due to massive data of likes and dislikes, the pattern of behaviour, emotion, thoughts, a user can be influenced to vote for a certain candidate.

Facebook Hate Speech connection to India

A Wall Street Journal on August 14 reported that public policy director of Facebook India, Ankhi Das allegedly opposed applying hate speech rules to posts by BJP MLA from Telangana, T Raja Singh and three other BJP leaders citing, it would harm their company.

Since that report, there has been a debate on the role of Facebook in spreading fake news in India, hate speech, being biased towards the ruling political party. Rahul Gandhi, the prominent voice of the opposition, attacked BJP and Facebook saying that because Whatsapp (a subsidiary of Facebook) wants to launch payment services in the country, it needs the government’s approval. So, the NDA government led by PM Narendra Modi has an advantage over Facebook. This is why Facebook is biased towards BJP and doesn’t delete their hate-speech post.

Later when the social media app came under pressure, they said that Facebook tries to clear as many as hate speech as it can. There has been a mistake (T Raja Singh post which posted something against a religion), but they will try to better things. Ajit Mohan, Managing Director of Facebook India was questioned in the parliament on the issue. He later said that Facebook doesn’t make a profit from hate speech.

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