Standing outside of Mark Zuckerberg's Tudor home in San Francisco, more than 40 protesters delivered a loud message to the Facebook co-founder: refuse political ads that contain lies. They held up colorful signs, scribbled messages in chalk on the sidewalk and chanted "Wake up Zuck!"
The nearly hour-long protest on Presidents Day was a reminder that criticism against Facebook continues to grow. Ahead of the 2020 US elections, misinformation has been a top concern after Russian trolls used Facebook to sow division among Americans. Despite scrutiny from lawmakers and celebrities, the world's social network stands by its decision to not send ads from politicians to third-party fact checkers.repeatedly defends Facebook's hands-off approach to political ads, saying that people should make their own judgments about what politicians are saying.
Changing Facebook's political ads policy, though, wasn't the only item on the lengthy wish list of protesters. They want the social network to stop allowing politicians to target ads at specific groups of users, a tool known as microtargeting, and prevent people who are trying to disrupt the election from using the social network.limited targeting for political ads while banned political ads.
Some protesters also called on the government to break up Instagram and WhatsApp fromand for Zuckerberg to step down. Speaking through a megaphone, one protester said he wanted Zuckerberg's name removed from San Francisco General Hospital. Another criticized the Facebook cofounder for meeting with President Donald Trump.
Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Andrea Buff, a San Francisco resident, described herself as a fed-up Facebook user.
"I'm really worried about how Facebook is going to be used to disrupt the election and Mark Zuckerberg has made it really clear that he's not taking us seriously," she said. "His irresponsibility is threatening our democracy."
Since the 2016 election, Facebook has pulled down fake accounts and partnered with third-party fact-checkers, but critics say those efforts aren't enough. Criticism over Facebook's political ads policy heightened after the social network rejected a request from Joe Biden's presidential campaign to pull down an ad from Trump's re-election campaign that contained misinformation about the former vice president.
Monday's protest was organized by advocacy groups, including Global Exchange and Media Alliance, according to an event's page.
Daly City resident Kathleen Dobson held up a bright pink-and-green sign with googly eyes that said "Wake the Zuck Up! Zuck sold ads to Russians for rubles. Now (Donald J. Trump is Putin's female poodle)." Donning a black-and-white hat with the words "Make Racism Wrong Again," Dobson is a member of Refuse Facism, a group calling for the removal of the Trump administration. At one point during the protest, she stuck out her middle finger as she turned toward Zuckerberg's home.
Facebook should stop accepting ads with misinformation and pull down manipulated videos such as the one that made it seemwas slurring her speech, Dobson said.
"It's ridiculous. I mean you could play games with other things but not politics," she said. "I don't think it's a laughing matter."