Zuckerberg political group’s fallout: Sierra Club, MoveOn, others pull ads from Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us was launched just last month, but the political action committee is already getting tons of attention — although perhaps not the way it intended. Today, the Sierra Club, MoveOn.org and other progressive groups announced they are pulling ads and refraining from buying others on Facebook in a protest against FWD.us.

FWD.us has funded ads supporting a couple of senators (Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Mark Begich) who in turn support the PAC’s immigration-reform goals. The ads praised construction of the Keystone oil pipeline and Alaskan oil drilling, plus support criticism of President Obama’s health care program. The  tactic has been called both smart and cynical, according to political experts quoted in an article by the Merc’s Brandon Bailey over the weekend. Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold writes that the political agendas funded by those ads were likely to irk Facebook users and others, and raise “questions about what he and his company stand for.”

“While the cynical disrespect of voters that FWD.us illustrates in their ads might play well among Washington’s lobbying class, it takes a special level of disdain for the American people to believe that insulting their intelligence is the best way to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Arshad Hasan, executive director of Democracy for America, said in a statement released today by Progressives United, which is leading the group that’s pulling ads from Facebook.

The group also includes Credo and 350.org, which last week protested at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters over the Keystone ads. In addition, Credo wanted to run an ad on Facebook that urged Zuckerberg et al to stop the controversial ads, but the social network rejected it. As Dana Hull wrote on SiliconBeat, Facebook said it refused to run the ad because it used Zuckerberg’s photo.

The ad protest against Facebook will last for at least two weeks, “enough time to make a point and make our concerns heard,” Nick Berning, communications director for MoveOn, said by phone this morning. How much ad spending are we talking? In MoveOn’s case, it varies depending on the campaign, Berning said. Some ad campaigns can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, he said.

The other groups joining the protest are Democracy for America, Daily Kos, League of Conservation Voters and Presente.


Photo shows protesters at Facebook headquarters last week. (Kirstina Sangsahachart/Palo Alto Daily News)


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