It is also a behind-the-scenes triumph for a novel coalition of civil rights groups and other advocacy organizations — the architects of the #StopHateForProfit campaign that many of the boycotting companies have signed on to.
Interviews with leaders of the nine coalition partners reveal how the groups spun up a boycott idea in a matter of days, responding to the George Floyd protests late this spring and using public energy to join together several long-simmering, frustrated efforts to hold Facebook to account for its content. They lobbied corporate leaders in private and, in some cases, shamed companies on social media to join the effort.
“[Facebook] is a breeding ground for racial hate groups,” says Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, one of the groups that made up the coalition. Referring to Zuckerberg, he said, “You can’t reason with the guy.”
In short order, the coalition has emerged as perhaps Facebook’s most formidable antagonist, when little else — not Congress, not European regulators, not public declarations by celebrities that they were deleting their Facebook accounts — has had much effect on how the site operates. And their campaign might offer a blueprint for how activist groups can tackle a modern tech giant: fusing novel pressure tactics with the weight of legacy civil rights groups.