Facebook's Zuckerberg Angers Enviros With Keystone XL Pipeline Ads

FWD.us social-engagement group funding controversial ads

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mark Zuckerberg has clicked "Like" on the Keystone XL Pipeline -- and now his timeline is going to be chock-full of angry. Scott Budman reports. (Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013)

    Mark Zuckerberg has clicked "Like" on the Keystone XL Pipeline -- and now his timeline is going to be chock-full of angry.

    The Facebook founder and CEO recently started a political advocacy group called FWD.us -- and the group is running a series of television ads in support of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

     

    Bay Area activists say they are "angered and mystified" over Zuck's turn for the pipe, and a group of about 50 protested Wednesday at Facebook's world headquarters in Menlo Park. The protest was timed just before the company released its first-quarter earnings. Wednesday is also "May Day," a day where many took up immigrants' rights and a path to citizenship as the key causes of the day.

    The protesters questioned why Zuckerberg would "spend millions in support" of the pipeline, "among the dirtiest projects on Earth," though supporters say the pipeline would generate many jobs.

    Pipeline critics created an online petition to stop "running ads supporting fossil fuels," which as of Wednesday afternoon, had collected more than 18,000 signatures.

    Zuckerberg did not come outside the building when the protect occurred about noon, nor did he issue any statement on his Facebook news website.

     

    His PAC was created to support immigration reform, but it is also going to support such things as drilling. The TV ad campaign is designed to give political cover to vulnerable conservatives back home to rally support for comprehensive immigration reform.

    But controversy generated by the ads could become a problem for Zuckerberg and Facebook. Though none of the ads suggest that Zuckerberg or Facebook support these policies, as pointed out by Jessica Guynn in the Los Angeles Times, that distinction may be lost on the general public.

    Fwd.us is coughing up a lot of money in seven states to frame immigration reform as a conservative issue and the ads now on the air don't mention immigration. Instead they tout support of lawmaker causes embraced in red states.

    Specfically, Fwd.us is bankrolling the reelection of senators who might be vulnerable next election cycle such as Democrat Mark Begich in Alaska and Republican Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. The goal of FWD.us, political experts say, is to get their votes on immigration reform. FWD.us's ads feature Graham bashing President Barack Obama for not being supportive-enough of the pipe.

    Still, the pipeline - which is being funded through Zuckerberg's PAC - is a sore issue for liberals. 

     

    Credo Mobile, the socially-active mobile carrier, says that Facebook has refused to run its ads that blast the pipeline and FWD.us's support for it.

    Even though experts say Zuckerberg's primary directive in effecting change in social policy is immigration reform, some are not going to agree with using the pipeline ads as "cover" for that change.

    "But invariably there is going to be people who don’t understand and the inevitable result is going to be this type of press fire," Dan Schnur, a political science professor at the University of Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times.

     Ironically, the Zuckerberg critics have a Facebook page dedicated to their cause.

    NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.