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More Progressives Target Zuckerberg on Facebook over FWD.us

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, May 8 2013

Progressives United, the political action committee founded by former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, is coordinating the latest push by progressive groups against the advertising tactics of FWD.us, the pro-immigration advocacy group backed by Mark Zuckerberg and other technology companies.

After initial protest efforts by groups such as Credo and the Sierra Club, Progressives United reached out to those to those organizations and others, said Josh Orton, spokesperson for Progressives United. That coalition, which also includes MoveOn, Democracy For America, Daily Kos, the League of Conservation Voters, 350.org, Presente, Environmental Action and UltraViolet, vowed in an announcement yesterday that for a minimum of two weeks, they would pull their paid Facebook ad campaigns and hold purchases of new ad campaigns.

That also applies to the coalition's own advocacy efforts on Facebook itself, said Orton. A Facebook page backed by the coalition with the message "Tell FWD.us and Mark Zuckerberg: Pull Your Dirty Ads" has over 11,700 supporters, and Orton said the growth is coming through outreach to e-mail lists and other efforts, and not promoted posts or campaigns.

The aim of the effort is not "bankrupting Facebook," Orton said. "The point of this is to send a political message to Zuckerberg...[Zuckerberg and other technology leaders] have a legitimate story about why they support immigration reform ... We are protesting their tactics."

With its advertisements backing Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and in favor of the Keystone Pipeline, progressive issues such as the environment and health care reform are being "thrown under the bus" by FWD.us, he said.

"We think it's bad strategy executed poorly," Orton went on to say. Running those ads is condescending, he said, implying that people in those states were too naive to have a proper discussion about the immigration issue.

"The ads are not about immigration and have nothing to do with immigration reform," he said, and draw on "Tea Party" rhetoric from the 2010 election with references to "Chicago-style politics" and "wasteful stimulus spending." If Zuckerberg does not hold those views, Orton said, "the approach is entirely cynical and transactional."

But even with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook as a target of the campaign, Orton said the use of Facebook's own tools was a self-evident strategy. "We're winking towards the irony of it," he said. "You have to go where the people are."

The ideal outcome, he said, would be "for them to change strategies and admit this cynical route is not the way to go." Orton added that there "are some indications that Facebook is starting to take notice," but said he could not expand on that at this time.

"We recognize that not everyone will always agree with or be pleased by our strategy – FWD.us remains totally committed to supporting a bipartisan policy agenda that will boost the knowledge economy, including comprehensive immigration reform," FWD.us spokesperson Kate Hanson wrote in an e-mail to techPresident.

On its Facebook page, FWD.us is raising awareness about tomorrow's Senate hearings on immigration reform. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today contributed an opinion piece to TechCrunch in support of immigration reform.

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