BREAKING: UltraViolet Says it Was a Mistake to Support Sheryl Sandberg for Facebook’s Board in 2012, Ahead of Election, Says Her Tenure Has Been “Bad for Women and Democracy”
Women’s Group Launches New TV Ad Campaign Featuring Women Speaking Directly to Sandberg About Abuse on Facebook and Demanding She “Lean In” to Fix It
UltraViolet Says Facebook is Powering Violence That Harms Women
SAN FRANCISCO (10/30/2020) — In a strong reversal, UltraViolet, a leading national women’s group that in 2012 lobbied aggressively for Sheryl Sandberg’s elevation to Facebook’s Board of Directors, is now saying that decision was a mistake and that Sandberg’s tenure at Facebook has been bad for women.
“In 2012, UltraViolet members stood up for Sheryl Sandberg and called for her to be added to Facebook’s Board of Directors – thinking that she was a smart and empathetic leader who deeply cared about improving the lives of all women. We were wrong. Sheryl Sandberg is in a position where she could have been a champion for women facing attacks on Facebook, but she and Mark Zuckerberg have turned Facebook into a right-wing playground where misogyny, racism, disinformation, violence, and hateful conspiracy theories grow and spread. Women deserve better,” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet.
As part of this announcement, UltraViolet will run new television ads on MSNBC and CNN in the San Francisco Bay Area, starting this weekend, featuring real women speaking directly to Sheryl Sandberg about their experiences on the platform and calling her to “lean in” to stop the spread of misogyny on Facebook.
Specifically, UltraViolet is calling for Sandberg to immediately have Facebook shut down hate groups, pages, and events that spread disinformation and calls for violence ahead of Election Day, warning that Facebook will be the primary source of election misinformation and the organization of violence.
UltraViolet’s shift in posture towards Sandberg comes as in just the past few months, new research has shown the specific ways in which Facebook actively undermines women and people of color who are running for elected office, and Facebook was a key tool in organizing a failed violent attack on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Members of Congress and other high profile women have also spoken out publicly about hate and harassment facilitated by Facebook.
“Right-wing extremists use Facebook to spread disinformation and harass women leaders. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other women of color leaders have been reporting death threats and abuse on Facebook for years. The assaults are escalating–from the attacks in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to the recent plot against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Facebook is powering violence that harms women, especially women of color,” added Bridget Todd, spokesperson for UltraViolet.
“Now, the election of our lifetime is underway, and Facebook is undermining our democracy. Conspiracy theories and disinformation are circulating on the platform, causing chaos and confusion about the election. Facebook doesn’t just tolerate misogyny and white supremacy, it actually recommends it. An internal report revealed that 64% of the time when people join extremist groups, it’s because Facebook recommended it to them. Facebook executives like Sheryl Sandberg know this and still choose to harbor and promote hate on their platform. It’s unacceptable.”