Environmentalists Give Thumbs-Down to Facebook Co-Founder's Advocacy Campaign

A number of environmental groups are giving a thumbs-down to the efforts of an advocacy group established earlier this year by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Created in April, Fwd.us promotes policies designed to keep the United States and its citizens competitive in a global economy, including comprehensive immigration and education reform. But recently, the organization has also paid for television ads that support expansion of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. According to the Times, the ads have been criticized by environmental groups opposed to the Keystone pipeline, which, they argue, would contribute to and accelerate climate change.

When he announced the launch of Fwd.us in an op-ed in the Washington Post last month, Zuckerberg made it clear he plans to play a more visible and active role in the advocacy arena. Critics of the approach argue, however, that the type of "bare-knuckled politics" in which Zuckerberg and his partners are engaging "carries some risk." Indeed, a small group of protesters staged a demonstration in front of Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, last week to demand that he remove the ads from local stations.

"The advertising, including the harsh and immediate counterattack from the climate change community, underscores the complexity of publicly traded companies and their CEOs frontally engaging in candidate campaigns," said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. "Politics is a full-contact sport, and when a company jumps into the arena, even if just through the actions of its leadership, it opens up the political brand of that company."

Jessica Guynn. "Zuckerberg's Advocacy Ads Under Fire." Los Angeles Times 05/01/2013.