While companies like Twitter and Snapchat insist on fact-checking political advertising, Facebook has bent itself into pretzels preserving the rights of politicians to lie. It’s philosophically indefensible, unless your philosophy involves building yourself a Scrooge McDuck-style money pit. Well, one man has had enough. Earlier this week, Neil Young announced that he would be quitting Facebook because of its “obvious commitments” to conservative politics.
Young has been mulling this decision since at least last month. In a post on the Neil Young Archives, he discussed his conflicted feelings: “FB gives you more than you want and it’s not all good. A lot of it is very bad misinformation about political campaigns and ads that are outright falsehoods. These are fine with Facebook, but not with NYA. If we were to leave Facebook with our social outreach we would lose communications with millions. If we continue to be on Facebook, we are conflicted about who we are.”
Young is a Baby Boomer icon with an aging fan base. As the AARP and others have pointed out, Facebook is seeing rapid growth with users 55 and up. His decision to quit the platform would likely cost Young more fan interactions than it would a younger artist like Billie Eilish. But on November 17th, Young made up his mind.
In a brief statement on the Neil Young Archives, the songwriter noted his breaking point: Facebook’s financial sponsorship of the conservative Federalist Society. The Federalist Society is known as a key player in the decades-long Republican strategy of packing U.S. courts with conservative judges, as well as being one of Brett Kavanugh’s biggest boosters. Young wrote,
Facebook is facing criticism for sponsoring the annual gala of the Federalist Society, the powerful right wing organization behind the nomination of the conservative supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh.
This turn of events, in addition to the false information regularly supplied to the public on Facebook, with its knowledge, has caused us to re-evaluate and change our use policy.
I don’t feel that a social site should be making obvious commitments to one side of politics or the other. It further confuses readers regarding truthfulness in coverage and message.
NYA, no longer interested in further links with FACEBOOK, will be discontinuing use.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to you.
The decision comes only one month after Young released his new album Colorado, as well as an accompanying documentary about the making-of, Mountaintop. The Canadian legend has run afoul of US politics before; two weeks ago Young’s citizenship application was delayed because of his marijuana use, under a new rule put in place by Trump’s Attorney General.