BlackRock has invested $54 billion in Facebook. That’s hard to reconcile with BlackRock’s claim of ‘helping people build a better tomorrow‘.
Is it ethical to invest in Facebook that is a danger to society and democracy? What responsibility do the Board of Directors have to shareholders and society being hurt by their decisions? Facebook is copying the Big Tobacco playbook of hiding the harm it does. How could divestment that curbed Big Tobacco be used to encourage Facebook to change?
This relationship map shows the connections between BlackRock, its Board of Directors, Facebook and its actions. Click on it for details.
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“Where we stand. We’re helping more and more people experience financial well-being. Together with our clients, we’re contributing to a more equitable and resilient world – today and for generations to come. Throughout our history, we have continued to find new ways to contribute to a more equitable, resilient future for all of our stakeholders: our clients, our employees, our shareholders and the people in communities where we live and operate.” – BlackRock
BlackRock Board of Directors
“Our commitment to good corporate governance is integral to our business and reflects not only regulatory requirements, the NYSE listing standards and broadly recognized governance practices, but effective leadership and oversight by our senior management team and Board of Directors. BlackRock is committed to conducting its business activities in the highest ethical and professional manner.” – BlackRock
How does the BlackRock Board of Directors feel about their $54 billion investment in Facebook which is causing so much harm to society?
Call the BlackRock integrity hotline at 800-714-4128 or share your comments on their EthicsPoint website.
Frances Haugen, Facebook whistleblower said it knows that its algorithms are pushing QAnon and white nationalist content but denies it. She said that the social media giant’s algorithms are pushing QAnon and white nationalist content to Trump supporters. In an interview for “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, former Facebook executive Frances Haugen said that the company’s claims to be tackling the spread of disinformation on its platform were false. She said that the site promotes divisive and extremist content to users who have taken no action to search it out. Haugen said that Facebook’s claims that it only shows such content to people who seek it out are false.” – Business Insider
Facebook uses Big Tobacco playbook
“Facebook has taken Big Tobacco’s playbook,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. “It has hidden its own research on addiction and the toxic effects of its products, it has attempted to deceive the public and us in Congress about what it knows, and it has weaponized childhood vulnerabilities against children themselves.
“Has Facebook research ever found that its platforms and products have a negative effect on children’s and teens’ mental health or well-being?” In August, the company had responded, “We are not aware of a consensus among studies or experts about how much screen time is too much.” To Blumenthal, that reply and subsequent disclosures and leaks suggested that the company was less than forthcoming. “That response was simply untrue. It knows the evidence of harm to teens is substantial and specific to Instagram,” Blumenthal said.” – Ars Technica
Addiction. Deception. Profits. Deaths.
“Big tobacco thrives off deception and very clever marketing. The industry that makes money from obfuscating the truth has been recently forced to fess up. A U.S. District Judge ordered four major tobacco companies to publish admission statements making clear that they had lied in the past and present the recognitions of guilt in both newspapers and television networks. The advertisement campaign is set to begin after the companies’ appeals are over.” – Daily Beast
- “Tobacco company CEOs lying to the US Congress in 1994 that nicotine is not addictive.
- Smoking is highly addictive.
- Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.
- It’s not easy to quit.
- Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans every day.
- More people die every year from smoking than from murder, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.” – Nicotine Monkey
“Big Tobacco likes to stay ahead of the curve—it has to in order to survive. Its fundamental problem is that one in two of its long-term users die from tobacco-related diseases. To hook a new generation into addiction, it has to try every advertising and marketing trick in its playbook. As one ex-marketing consultant remarked: “The problem is how do you sell death?”
The New York Times investigated Big Tobacco’s social media and Instagram influences. It found 123 hashtags associated with companies’ tobacco products, which had been viewed a staggering 25 billion times. Robert Kozinets, a professor at the University of Southern California, told the newspaper that what the industry was doing was a “really effective way” to get around existing laws to restrict advertising to young people.
Cease and desist. The pressure on the industry to act increased in May 2019 when 125 public health organizations called on Facebook and Instagram to immediately end the promotion of cigarettes and e-cigarettes. This included banning the use of social media influencers. The industry ignored the request.” – Techxplore
Divest. Apply lessons from curbing Big Tobacco to Facebook.
Divestment is reducing investment for financial, ethical, or other reasons. – Wikipedia
“The TOBACCO DIVESTMENT PROJECT (TDP) champions a single, simple proposition: we should not profit from tobacco addiction. As individuals, and as members of institutions which ee support with our efforts and our contributions, we will not place profits above the health and welfare of millions of citizens. No individual or private organization should profit from tobacco addiction. But it is totally unconscionable for non-profit and public groups to invest in the leading preventable cause of death and disease in America.
TDP called for the divestment of tobacco securities in the pension, endowment and investment accounts of public and non-profit organizations. “You think nicotine is addictive? What’s really addictive is the money: that’s why tobacco thrives!” said an analyst.
The ultimate goal of the TDP is not to affect stock prices; it is to alter social perception, to “de-legitimize” tobacco. We will not curb tobacco additions as long as our institutions depend upon tobacco profits. Once institutions like investment funds, universities, hospitals, churches and philanthropies — eschew tobacco profiteering, then politics will follow. When tobacco interests lose their (financial) control over legislators, effective regulation will follow.” – EnCognitive (paraphrased)
This relationship map was created with the free Kumu app using public data from Yahoo Finance and BlackRock. Additional resources:
Bring Zuckerberg and Facebook to justice
Make Facebook Whistleblower Testimony Video Available To All Audiences
Facebook buys Zuckerberg a $5 billion GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card
Are you one the losing side of the DATA DIVIDE?
Racism has consequences
TakeAway: Hold BlackRock and its Board to the ideals they claim to have.
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