Support for Keystone XL Pipeline 'Zucks,' Facebook Says

05/06/2013 02:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Usually when hordes of people threaten to quit Facebook, it's over an unpopular redesign or a sneaky switch in the site's privacy policy. This week, it's over the politics of creator Mark Zuckerberg -- specifically, his support of Arctic oil drilling and the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

"That's it Zuckerman," posted someone named Margret Ball, in Prineville, Oregon. "I'm done with you, and you can put that little happy face where the sun don't shine. NO FACEBOOK FOR A WEEK!"

Where did she post this? On Facebook, of course.

When people get mad nowadays, Facebook is where they go to vent. So when Facebook (or its billionaire founder) is the target of their frustrations, expect a little cognitive dissonance. Zuckerberg made headlines recently after his political group bankrolled a series of TV ads (why not Facebook ads, Zuck?) for politicians who support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and want to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport tar sands oil from northern Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

The political group,, doesn't explicitly support fossil fuels. It was set up by a slew of techies, including Bill Gates and LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, to push for immigration reform. So the support for Keystone XL and Arctic drilling may just be Machiavellian tit-for-tat, funding pro-fossil fuels politicians in exchange for immigration reform votes.

The phone company CREDO Mobile, whose support for social and environmental causes is part of its brand, tried to push back by running a paid ad -- on Facebook -- asking Zuckerberg to back off on his support for Keystone XL. But the social network rejected the ad, telling ThinkProgress that Zuckerberg's image is part of its brand trademark and therefore verboten to use in advertising.

So instead, the ad is turning up all over Facebook, in the news streams of individual users. CREDO action, the mobile company's advocacy arm, made a share-able poster and published it on its company page. This non-ad went on to muster 9,902 shares. Then Sierra Club jumped on the Facebook campaign bandwagon and made its own, Zuckerberg dislike, ad. Between Sierra Club posts and CREDO's, 29,841 people have either liked or shared posts lambasting Zuckerberg.

That has translated to a whole lot of exposure. CREDO action told OnEarth that its initial post has gotten 697,344 views so far. "It's likely, we reached more people with our campaign than we would have with the proposed ad buy," said Sarah Lane of CREDO action over email today. "This was largely due to public outrage over Zuckerberg's pro-Keystone XL ad."

Perhaps that's the beauty, and paradox, of social platforms. Sharing between peers isn't censored (yet). But using Zuckerberg's site, even to criticize him, is still good for his company's bottom line.

And Margret Ball? She's been posting all week.

This story was originally published by OnEarth.