Facebook’s Dark Side: Dirty Energy Funding Gets A Big ‘Dislike’

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Facebook is a financial juggernaut that claims to be committed to a clean energy future, but the discovery of a Zuckerberg-funded SuperPac promoting the world’s filthiest fossil fuels has the Internet crying foul.

We don’t feel it or see it as we’re surfing the web or clicking “Like” on cat memes, but the internet generates a lot of pollution. See, the internet lives on giant electricity-sucking servers housed in climate-controlled data centers all over the world. The bigger the website, the more servers it takes to keep it up and running.

Facebook is one of the world’s most heavily trafficked sites, so naturally, it’s got more servers than just about anyone else. In 2011, in response to Greenpeace’s popular “Unfriend Coal” campaign, the social media giant agreed to promote renewable energy, encourage major utilities to develop renewable energy generation, and develop programs that will enable users to save energy and engage their communities in clean energy decisions.

Soon, news of Facebook’s new LEED-certified, uber efficient data centers were splashed across the headlines. “Hooray,” we thought. “Facebook is doing the right thing, leading the way for the green internet of the future.”

That’s why millions of Facebook users were stunned to learn that CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us SuperPAC is funding ads that promote the Keystone Pipeline, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and attacks on Obamacare.

Now, there’s nothing shocking about a billionaire supporting pro-oil, pro-Conservative rhetoric. What makes this development shocking is 1) how hard Facebook has tried to position itself as environmentally-concerned and 2) the fact that the SuperPAC  (supposedly) exists to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Apparently, the SuperPAC thought that by supporting some Republican senators’ positions on fossil fuels, they would convince those politicians to vote in favor of immigration reform—a move that could anger their right-leaning constituents. In short, FWD.us is employing the same underhanded bribery that has allowed special interests to completely corrupt our political system. Thankfully, this dark side didn’t sit well with Facebook users, the Progressive community or FWD.us’ own donor list.

FWD.us “doesn’t understand the tech industry,” said a longtime tech lobbyist who remained anonymous to Politico. “Jumping into unrelated energy issues like Keystone pipeline has tarnished the tech community’s reputation. Not only does it involve them in an issue in which they have no position, it also unnecessarily aligns them with Republicans over President Obama and the core of the Democratic Party.”

When news of FWD.us’s pro-Keystone ads first hit the internet, progressive groups lost no time in using Facebook’s own viral sharing functions to spread the word. That’s when Zuckerberg made his second big mistake.

Miffed by the backlash, Facebook decided to pull an ad by activist mobile phone company Credo that criticized FWD.us. “Facebook took the extraordinary step of rejecting our ad featuring Mark Zuckerberg’s photo along with a headline asking him to stop pushing pro-Keystone XL propaganda,” Becky Bond, Political Director of Credo told Mashable. “But the ads that truly need to be pulled are the cynical and ineffective anti-environmental political commercials that Zuckerberg and FWD.us are airing in South Carolina and Alaska.”

The move, which some viewed as self-serving censorship, prompted Credo and other groups to pull their Facebook ad campaigns, and caused some of the super PAC’s top donors to withdraw their support.

Want to help? Check out Credo’s petition asking FWD.us to stop running ads supporting dirty energy.

Image: Tar Sands Solution Network