Guest are welcomed by people in Facebook shirts as they arrive at a Facebook Canadian Summit in Toronto on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Friends of Canadian Broadcasting wants the federal government to drop hosting its virtual Canada Day celebration on Facebook Inc. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Donovan

Advocacy group calls on feds to pull Canada Day celebration from Facebook

Facebook declined to comment on the matter

Amid a growing advertiser boycott against Facebook, the federal government is being urged to unfriend the U.S. tech giant.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting wants the federal government to drop hosting its virtual celebration on Facebook because it says the social media giant is complicit in promoting racism, violence and misinformation.

“How can the government in good conscience encourage Canadians to visit this place, to have our civic festival on Facebook, to drive eyeballs and profits to Facebook, and to continue advertising with tens of millions of federal dollars every year to the company?” said Daniel Bernhard, the executive director of Friends, a grassroots organization that defends Canadian culture, democracy and journalism, but is not affiliated with any broadcasters.

“This is a U.S. brand that has been developing a very well-deserved reputation for ruining democracy and stability in the world….It makes no sense that the Government of Canada has to continue feeding this beast with public dollars and giving passive approval for the behaviour of this company.”

READ MORE: Facebook hit with $9M penalty for making ‘false, misleading’ privacy claims

Bernhard said the government has long argued that it must use Facebook because that is where the most people are, but his organization feels the company can’t continue to push the platform given its track record with hateful content and white supremacists.

The federal government’s Canada Day celebration will involve printable activity kits for kids, music playlists and two shows with performances from artists including Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, the Sheepdogs, Alanis Morissette and Haviah Mighty.

In addition to Facebook, the shows will air on YouTube, CBC, CPAC and Radio-Canada.

Facebook declined to comment on the matter and the department of Canadian heritage did not immediately offer a response to The Canadian Press when asked about the call to change its holiday activities.

The demand from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting comes as civil rights and advocacy groups including the Anti-Defamation League and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have launched the #StopHateForProfit boycott.

The boycott calls on major international brands to cease paid advertising on Facebook throughout July to make it clear that the Menlo Park, Calif. company has not done enough to keep racist, false and dangerous content or white supremacists off its platform.

Coca-Cola, Unilever, Honda America, Patagonia are among the dozens of international companies that have supported the boycott.

Lululemon Athletica Inc., Mountain Equipment Co-op, Arc’teryx and Moosehead Breweries have pledged to follow suit in Canada and were joined on Tuesday by Cineplex Inc., CAA Club Group and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.

“We have seen some of the largest, most profit-seeking companies say that no amount of money is enough to justify the hate and incitement to violence and misinformation that Facebook has become synonymous with,” said Bernhard.

“It strikes me as very worrying that the Government of Canada now has a weaker moral position on fundamental matters of equity, justice and public safety than Coca-Cola and Unilever do.”

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press


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