Following Facebook’s alleged rejection of a nonprofit’s attempt to raise awareness by way of hate crime statistics via the social media platform, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín announced he would be introducing a resolution condemning the company Wednesday.
United Against Hate is a Berkeley-based nonprofit aiming to empower local residents in taking action against hate crimes and implicit biases, while building an inclusive and equitable community. According to a city press release, when the nonprofit sought to “promote awareness” through a Facebook campaign, the company rejected their attempts on the grounds of advertising policy.
Founded in 2017, United Against Hate was founded after numerous far-right rallies occurred within Berkeley. Stefan Elgstrand, spokesperson for Arreguín, said United Against Hate has grown to play a major role in the city’s push for diversity.
“We work closely with (United Against Hate),” Elgstrand said. “This organization helps raise awareness around hate crimes and also just implicit biases people may have. It aims to educate people, to promote diversity.”
Statistics presented by the nonprofit revealed that despite racial hatred in 2020 decreasing by 7%, anti-Asian hate crimes rose by 149%. United Against Hate’s attempts to promote these numbers via advertisements was rejected by Facebook, prompting a response from Berkeley City Council.
Elgstrand noted that this is a recurring issue.
“Facebook poses some of the greatest existential threats our world faces today.” City Councilmember Sophie Hahn alleged in an email. “They have earned our condemnation many times over.”
Hahn emphasized the role that Facebook’s algorithms may play in the spread of misinformation and “extreme positions,” and their alleged silencing of organizations seeking to push against the “abuse.”
The resolution proposed by Arreguín is still in the process of being drafted, but will condemn Facebook for preventing United Against Hate from promoting statistics on hate crimes, according to Elgstrand.
Elgstrand noted recently leaked documents show the social media platform is aware of their censorship of educational statistics. Despite allegedly knowing about the issue, Elgstrand said Facebook has not done enough to address the problem. Such censorship may be one of the reasons that hate crimes have been increasing nationwide, Elgstrand alleged.
According to Elgstrand, United Against Hate hosts events that bring the community together and help address the “nationwide” increase in hate crimes. He added the nonprofit is central to the city and said their message of anti-hate is imperative.
“Hate has no place in Berkeley,” Hahn said in an email.
Contact Philippe Jin at [email protected].