An advocacy group is targeting Facebook employees with ads on LinkedIn, objecting to the company’s support of an event honoring Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. The group, Demand Justice, has a clear message for employees: “Tell Facebook: stop funding the fight to normalize Brett Kavanaugh.”
Facebook is the only tech company listed as a “Gold Circle” sponsor for a Federalist Society event to be held in Washington, DC. On November 14th, Kavanaugh will give a speech at the Antonin Scalia memorial dinner as part of the group’s annual convention.
Other tech companies, such as Google, have sponsored Federalist Society events in the past, but Facebook has a complicated history with Kavanaugh. Last year, a company executive sat behind the then-Supreme Court nominee as he testified before Congress, attempting to rebut the allegations that he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were both in high school. Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, said he had known Kavanaugh for more than 20 years and considered the man a close friend.
Employees were not swayed by this explanation. “This was a protest against our culture, and a slap in the face to his fellow employees,” a program manager posted on Facebook, as reported by The New York Times. Many employees saw Kaplan’s support as a sign that he didn’t believe Blasey Ford.
A year after the testimony, Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court Justice, and Ford remains largely in hiding. “Facebook should not be sponsoring the rehabbing of Brett Kavanaugh’s reputation when Dr. Blasey Ford remains unable to resume a normal life after bravely coming forward last year,” said Katie O’Connor, senior counsel for Demand Justice. “You can claim to respect survivors of sexual assault or you can pay for a celebration of Brett Kavanaugh, but you can’t do both.”
The campaign is supported by UltraViolet, a feminist advocacy organization. “Facebook’s unabashed support of the Federalist Society and Brett Kavanaugh sends a clear signal to survivors everywhere – that Facebook is not on their side,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director UltraViolet.
In addition to the targeted LinkedIn ads, Demand Justice has purchased banner ads that will show up on people’s phones if they’re close to Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. One says, “The Federalist Society is honoring him. Why is Facebook paying for it?” alongside a photo of Kavanaugh. Another urges employees to tell Facebook to stop funding the fight to “normalize” Kavanaugh’s behavior.
The ads come as the tech giant faces mounting employee backlash over accusations of ongoing discrimination. On November 7th, 12 anonymous Facebook workers published a Medium article accusing the company of creating an environment where racism and bias can flourish.
Some employees have also been unhappy about the company’s policy to allow politicians to lie in ads on the platform. Last month, they wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter urging him to change his stance. “We are proud to work here,” they wrote. “This is our company.”