Kim Kardashian West joins Instagram 'freeze' as Stop Hate attracts celebrities
Kim Kardashian West joined the anti-Facebook brigade on Tuesday, announcing she would suspend social media activity on Instagram for 24 hours as part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign that has hounded the social network all summer. And she wasn’t the only celebrity, as the outcry against Facebook appears to have jumped from brands to the stars who use its services.
On Monday, the civil rights groups behind Stop Hate for Profit publicized a new plan to pressure Facebook, which owns Instagram, by calling for a “freeze” of activity on Wednesday. Kardashian, with 188 million followers on Instagram, declared her support.
“I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation, created by groups to sow division and split America apart,” Kardashian said on Twitter.
Kardashian’s stance was praised by her fans, but also raised eyebrows. Some commenters replied to Kardashian by noting that her husband Kanye West was playing a provocative role in American democracy. West has mounted a long-shot bid to appear on the ballot as a third-party candidate for president, a campaign that has appeared to prioritize publicity over civic responsibility.
Katherine Carey, who goes by @KittyKittyCarey on Twitter, doubted Kardashian's motives for joining the Instagram freeze, calling it a "publicity stunt." Carey added on Twitter: "Not 'blaming' her, but maybe she could start by addressing Kanye’s attempts to destroy America and then tackle the hate on all of Facebook."
Still, Kardashian was not the only celebrity to join the Stop Hate effort. On Tuesday, Kerry Washington, Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo Dicaprio, Katy Perry and Jennifer Lawrence signed on to the Instagram freeze. The protests are meant to highlight the concerns about disinformation and hate speech on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook declined to comment.
The Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, Color of Change and other groups have criticized Facebook over what they consider lax policies that allow offensive and violent rhetoric to spread on the service. The groups pointed most recently to the events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Counter-protesters allegedly organized on Facebook to confront people in the streets who were demanding justice for Blake. The counter-protests attracted gun-toting militias to Kenosha, contributing to a violent atmosphere that led to a shooting incident.
When it first launched in June, Stop Hate for Profit was seen as a reaction to George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police in May. The civil rights groups demanded Facebook apply stricter moderation against what they considered hate speech and disinformation circulating in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.
More than 1,000 brands, including Unilever, Starbucks, Verizon, Pfizer, Coca-Cola and Ford, joined an advertising boycott in July. The boycott did not appear to take a toll on Facebook’s ad revenue, which still grew in the second-quarter while Facebook said there were only limited effects from the ad pause in July. Facebook has more than 9 million advertisers.
Facebook apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, have 3.1 billion monthly users, so it’s unclear how much a 24-hour freeze from even popular accounts would diminish activity. It's not the first time a member of the Kardashian clan has influenced the prospects of a social media site, though. In 2018, Kylie Jenner, Kardashian's sister, shocked the Snapchat world by publicly criticizing a widely panned redesign of the app. Jenner's Snapchat split was viewed as a sign the app could lose its cool factor, and it briefly harmed the stock price and likely played a role in Snapchat eventually redesigning the redesign.
Facebook's stock price was holding steady on Tuesday, ending the day up more than 2 percent.
Facebook has responded to the protests and has made new commitments to crack down on harmful accounts like QAnon conspiracy theorists and militia groups. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended the company saying that the platform is not overrun with toxic political speech.
Facebook also claims to catch more than 95 percent of hate speech through artificial intelligence before it spreads publicly. The company has also been working on a series of “brand safety” upgrades to ensure advertisers have more control and transparency when it comes to running ad campaigns.