This post originally appeared on Daily Kos.
It turns out that even a high tech company like Intel can fail to understand the power of social media in the hands of activists – and so far, their public relations response has been a gaffe a minute for the past several days.
It was all part of a grassroots campaign using Facebook in a new way to get support for the bipartisan Conflict Minerals Trade Act that is making its way through Congress. The bill would regulate the global trade in conflict minerals that has fueled years of civil wars in which more than 5 million people have died in the Congo. These conflicts feature rape as a war weapon and some of the most horrific mass atrocities the world has ever seen. Intel and other tech companies benefit from the conflict minerals trade.
Perhaps the most remarkable of Intel’s PR pratfalls came last night, when the company deleted protestors’ comments on its Facebook page – then reposted them after a battle raged on Twitter and Facebook. Now Intel has shut down all posts on its Facebook page (although a vigorous thread of "comments" can still squeak through), thereby creating a "virtual no-protest zone."
Intel just committed a major p.r. gaffe by deleting protestors’ comments on its Facebook page – then reposting them after a battle raged on Twitter and Facebook – and then shutting down all posts on Intel’s Facebook page, thereby creating a virtual "no-protest zone." This herky-jerky corporate two-step came in response to activists calling on the tech company to support the bipartisan Conflict Minerals Trade Act that would regulate the global trade in conflict minerals fueling rape as a war weapon and other mass atrocities in the Congo.
Here’s the back-story to this game-changing Facebook protest, which illustrates how a few passionate activists can leverage the public power of social media to bring legislators — and now even a major tech company — to account.
On Monday, human rights activist Lisa Shannon, author of A Thousand Sisters, led a protest at the Intel campus in Hillsboro, Oregon, calling on the company to fully support the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, without amendments to weaken it. She organized 30 protesters, mostly women and children, to bring jars of pennies: 45,000 pennies to represent an estimated 45,000 lives lost per month due to violence and the humanitarian crisis in the Congo, fueled by the global trade in conflict minerals.
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