Facebook’s political involvement has recently come under increased scrutiny following the revelation that it sold over $100,000 in targeted advertising to Russians seeking to influence the U.S. election through paid, targeted posts on contentious social issues like racism, guns and gay rights. Two political writers also found that the influential social network also made over $750,000 in donations to anti-gay political groups.
Facebook donations to anti-LGBTQ groups take different forms
Facebook has admitted to these donations. Some are on public record and some had been revealed in the past. For example, in February 2017, it came to light that Facebook donated $120,000 to the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), a group that has long blacklisted LGBT organizations and speakers from its annual convention.
Half of Facebook’s donation was cash and the other half was “in-kind” support for the annual conference. Facebook also hosted a space at the conference for attendees to film Facebook Live videos and learn about online promotion. Facebook had also donated to CPAC in the past.
Regarding their donation and participation in CPAC, Facebook says, “Our involvement is not an endorsement of any particular position or platform.”
Nevertheless, Facebook has also supported various anti-LGBTQ politicians since establishing its own political action committee (PAC) in 2011. It has given $477,000 to Republican candidates like John Boehner and Paul Ryan, both of whom oppose marriage equality and LGBTQ rights in general.
Political writers Zev Shalev and Tracie McElroy say, “Since 2012, Facebook has also favored politicians with anti-LGBT voting records. More than 40% of Facebook’s PAC contributions, totaling roughly $156,000, have gone to politicians voting against LGBT rights.”
Facebook donations haven’t hurt their pro-LGBTQ reputation
Shalev and McElroy added that Facebook’s PAC supports politicians “on both sides of the aisle,” including ones that support LGBTQ equality.
Their donations to anti-LGBTQ politicians, however, raise eyebrows because of the company’s perfect 100 rating in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2017 Corporate Equality Index, an annual ranking of American workplaces’ contributions to LGBTQ equality.
That ranking, conducted by the world’s largest LGBTQ organization, is supposed to take corporate political donations into consideration alongside each company’s treatment of LGBTQ employees. Facebook’s perfect score implies that companies can donate to anti-LGBTQ political groups with impunity even though the HRC has lowered companies’ scores in the past for contributing to anti-LGBTQ political causes.
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