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A who’s who of celebrities plans to boycott Instagram tomorrow in an effort to pressure its parent company, Facebook to do a better job of controlling violence, racism, and hate across its services.
The 14 participating celebrities so far include Kim Kardashian West, Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Kerry Washington, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Ruffalo, Demi Lovato, and Ashton Kutcher. They have vowed not to post on Instagram on Wednesday and to follow up over the next week with posts calling for change.
The celebrity boycott was organized by the #StopHateForProfit coalition, including the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, and Common Sense Media. It’s just the latest in a series of actions by the coalition that has targeted Facebook over its lax policing of its service.
In July, it urged Facebook advertisers to temporarily pause their ads on the service. More than 1,200 advertisers, including some big brands like Verizon and Unilever, participated, but Facebook ultimately made few concessions.
“We could show you thousands of examples of what [Facebook] amplifies, and we’re sick of it,” said Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, speaking about misinformation and hate on the service. “That’s why we went to influencers this time. They have tens of millions of followers.”
The celebrity campaign was brought to life with help from Baron Cohen, who has often been the recipient of anti-Semitic messages and hate for his controversial parodies and comedy skits. Baron Cohen spoke to Kardashian West and helped attract a number of other celebrities, Steyer said.
The message from the celebrities is expected to reach their hundreds of millions followers. Kardashian West alone has 188 million followers on Instagram. Meanwhile, Katy Perry has 107 million followers, and Demi Lovato has 93.2 million.
“I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation,” Kardashian West tweeted on Tuesday announcing that she was joining the campaign. “Misinformation shared on social media has a serious impact on our elections and undermines our democracy.”
The coalition is demanding that Facebook take down groups focused on white supremacy, militia, hate, and violent conspiracies. It also wants Facebook to commit 5% of its annual revenue to an independently administered fund to support groups working on the fight against racism and hate. The coalition said it wants Facebook to increase the resources for monitoring groups for hate speech and violence and to change its policy to forbid events that involve a call to use weapons.
Recently, Facebook allowed the self-proclaimed militia group Kenosha Guard to organize on its service and create an event that called for people take up arms against protestors in Kenosha, Wis. Facebook users flagged the event for Facebook to remove, but it remained online until a 17-year-old shot and killed two people and wounded a third at a protest.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg later called Facebook’s failure to quickly remove the event an “operational mistake.”
Steyer said while the celebrity campaign has already attracted 14 well-known names, the organizers are still in discussions with others including athletes, who they expect will join. While this campaign is mostly geared toward informing Instagram users, Steyer said he also hopes the celebrity messages will garner the attention of advertisers.
“We’ve been hammering Facebook for months,” he said. “They just don’t do anything, so this is phase two.”
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