Kim Kardashian wipes millions off Facebook's value by boycotting Instagram

Laurence Dodds
·4-min read

Watch: Kim Kardashian Urges Others to Join Instagram, Facebook ‘Freeze’

Millions of dollars were wiped off Facebook's stock within minutes after Kim Kardashian West temporarily renounced her ultra-popular Instagram account.

The American reality TV mogul, who is one of the app's biggest stars with 144m followers, said she would freeze her account for one day in protest against Facebook's treatment of "hate, propaganda and misinformation".

The company's market value plummeted by roughly $10m (£7.8m) in the half hour following her announcement, though it later rebounded to near its original level in after hours trading.

Mrs Kardashian West was joined by other celebrities including Leonardo DeCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, Mark Ruffalo, Katy Perry and Black Panther actor Michael B Jordan.

The one-day strike is a coup for the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which has persuaded major companies such as Adidas and Ford to boycott Facebook's advertising business, in some cases until the end of the year.

Mrs Kardashian West said: "I love that I can connect directly with you through Instagram and Facebook, but I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation – created by groups to sow division and split America apart –only to take steps after people are killed.

"Misinformation shared on social media has a serious impact on our elections and undermines our democracy. Please join me tomorrow when I will be “freezing” my Instagram and FB account to tell Facebook to #StopHateForProfit."

Facebook declined to comment.

Stop Hate for Profit was founded by venerable US civil rights groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples (NAACP) and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The campaign has issued Facebook a series of demands including devoting more resources to monitoring hate groups, commit 5pc of its annual revenue to an independent anti-racism fund, subject politicians to fact-checking, and tighten its rules on voting misinformation and politicians who threaten violence.

Some of those demands appear to have been partly met as Facebook has progressively cracked down on militias, hate groups, voter suppression and misleading political adverts, as well as barring all new political adverts during the final week of the US 2020 election campaign.

However, the last few months have seen the globe-spanning firm suffer a series of scandals involving extremist groups, violent threats, conspiracy theories, dangerous rumours and a live-streamed suicide that were able to spread and take hold on Facebook before the company took decisive action.

Mrs Kardashian West's wrath in particular is a major PR blow to Instagram because of her prominence on its service and her important role in its early rise. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012 and has since become a buttress of its profits.

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A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on Sep 13, 2020 at 4:22pm PDT

The model and socialite, who is married to rapper Kanye West and has a history of backing political causes, was quick to see the app's potential to bypass the traditional showbiz press and take command of her own public image by reaching her fans directly.

The one-day freeze is unlikely to significantly effect either her bottom line or Instagram's, and appears intended instead to raise awareness.

On Monday, a leaked memo from a departing employee accused Facebook of turning a blind eye to secret political meddling campaigns by authoritarian politicians across the developing world. The employee, Sophie Zhang, said she felt she had "blood on her hands".

While Facebook has traditionally drawn the most scrutiny, Instagram too came under fire last year after the father of Molly Russell, a 14-year-old girl who died by suicide after falling into online self-harm communities blamed the app for her death.