A protest action is planned for Tuesday evening that will bring projected messages onto 181 Fremont Street, the tower that is home to Facebook and Instagram's SF offices. Protesters are looking to call attention to ongoing disinformation campaigns, hate speech, and falsehoods spreading on the platform during this election season.
Bay City News reports, via an announcement by the protest group, that the projected messages are set to begin at 9 p.m. Tuesday, and it's not clear how visible they will be from around the city.
The action is aimed at rallying support for company policy changes among shareholders, ahead of a scheduled shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
Facebook, controversially, announced last fall that it would not police political ads for falsehoods, saying essentially that lying in political ads is a longstanding tradition and it's up to voters, not Facebook, to decide who and what to believe. The policy drew sharp criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren and others, and since then CEO Mark Zuckerberg has held firm in his stance. A semi-secret dinner he had with President Trump at the White House subsequently raised alarm bells about the possibility that Facebook's policy decisions were being made to curry favor with the administration and Republicans in general, just as talk of antitrust actions against the company was ramping up.
In recent months, Facebook has updated its policies to include a ban on deepfaked videos, though it left open a door for "satire" that is allowed. Barely a month later, the company allowed a doctored video to stay on the platform that misrepresented why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up her copy of President Trump's State of the Union address. Not long after that, a group of protesters showed up outside Zuckerberg's San Francisco home on Liberty Hill to protest the political ad policy and disinformation on the platform in general.
The projected messages on Tuesday will continue this conversation just as former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to return to the campaign trail.
Facebook leased the entire office portion of the mixed-used tower at 181 Fremont in 2017. The tower contains 17 floors of luxury condos on its upper stories, and Facebook's offices occupy the lower 50 floors — primarily with employees of Instagram.
Ironically, these offices have likely been fully deserted since early March along with Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters, due to pandemic concerns. And Facebook just announced that it will allow employees to work remotely indefinitely, which may lead to some contraction in the amount of office space the company needs.
Facebook's annual shareholder meeting will be taking place via webcast at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. During last year's shareholder meeting, protesters brought an eight-foot-high inflatable angry-face emoji to protest in favor of antitrust actions, and against Mark Zuckerberg's consolidation of power at the company. Zuckerberg holds over 50 percent of voting shares in the company, giving him total veto power over shareholder proposals, despite only owning 15 percent of the company overall.
Photo courtesy of 181 Fremont