Celebrities freeze social media accounts to protest against hate speech

Kim Kardashian West has frozen her Facebook and Instagram accounts for 24 hours since yesterday to urge Facebook to curb the spread of hate and propaganda.
Kim Kardashian West has frozen her Facebook and Instagram accounts for 24 hours since yesterday to urge Facebook to curb the spread of hate and propaganda.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SAN FRANCISCO • Kim Kardashian West has joined other celebrities to freeze her Facebook and Instagram accounts for 24 hours from yesterday in a campaign urging the world's biggest social media company to curb the spread of hate and propaganda.

"Misinformation shared on social media has a serious impact on our elections and undermines our democracy," Kardashian West, 39, wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday, expressing support for the Stop Hate For Profit campaign against Facebook.

Actors including Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lawrence and Sacha Baron Cohen also tweeted on Tuesday, calling on Facebook to do more.

The campaign, launched by civil rights groups this summer, won the support of hundreds of major companies in an advertising boycott of the social media giant in July, although it had little impact on Facebook's bottom line.

This week, organisers encouraged users to post about the harm Facebook is causing and "freeze" their use of Facebook-owned Instagram for 24 hours yesterday.

The embrace of that call by Kardashian West, a businesswoman and reality television star with one of the top 10 biggest Instagram followings worldwide, threatens a fresh blow to Facebook's image and careful management of its relationships with celebrities.

The company devotes substantial resources to celebrity "partnerships," with dedicated teams handling special requests and giving stars early access to new products, according to two former employees familiar with the operation.

Facebook has said it would team up with civil rights groups to develop more tools to fight hate speech, although the groups say executives have shown little commitment to action.

Kardashian West has become an influential powerhouse of social change, raising the issue of climate change to her 188 million followers and lobbying the White House for criminal justice reform.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2020, with the headline 'Celebrities freeze social media accounts to protest against hate speech'. Print Edition | Subscribe