They Tried to Boycott Facebook, Apple and Google. They Failed.


Ms. Cunningham, who has freelanced for The New York Times, added that she had immediately begun missing Facebook as a research tool for her documentaries. “I don’t know if I can get out of the ecosystem,” she said.

People looking to punish major tech companies by abstaining from their products have been bedeviled time and again by the difficulty in escaping them. After Google fired an engineer, James Damore, for criticizing the company’s diversity efforts last year, hundreds of people on social media called for a boycott of the company. But an analysis of nearly 7,000 tweets using the hashtag #BoycottGoogle since August showed that 26 percent of the tweets came from devices using Google’s Android software, according to Keyhole, a social-media research firm.

One Twitter account named Milton Prescott tweeted on Aug. 8: “Google’s firing of James Damore proves his point completely. I will no longer be using Google for any services. #BoycottGoogle.” The tweet came from an Android device. A message to the account went unreturned.

Even Breitbart is running into the same dilemma. The conservative website is planning to host a panel on how tech platforms like Facebook suppress conservative voices — and it said it would livestream the discussion on Facebook. Breitbart didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Marisa Richardson, a program manager at a life-sciences company, said she began boycotting Amazon recently after learning that it offered the NRA channel on its streaming-video service. So when she needed laundry detergent, she avoided the e-commerce site and instead braved the crowds and traffic — and spent a few dollars more — at a nearby Target.

But a few days later she shopped at the Whole Foods near her home in Oakland, Calif. “I completely forgot that they’re owned by Amazon,” she said.

After the shooting in Parkland in February, gun-control activists called for a boycott of certain Apple and Amazon services because they hosted the NRA channel.

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Ms. Bruzzese said her social media options were limited. Few of her friends are on Twitter, and many have stopped using Snapchat.

Credit
Michelle Gustafson for The New York Times

People used the hashtag #March1NRABoycott to spread the message on social media. An analysis of about 58,500 tweets with the hashtag showed that nearly half came from an iPhone or an iPad, according to Keyhole. Those included popular tweets using the #March1NRABoycott hashtag from the actress Alyssa Milano.

“Had I sent the same tweets from an Android phone, the same issue would apply. There is an NRATV app for Android phones,” Ms. Milano said through a spokeswoman. “We are only just beginning to understand how these companies have infiltrated not only our ideologies, but also our lives in the most in-depth way imaginable.”

Nearly a third of the 4,700 tweets using the #BoycottApple hashtag since August came from iPhones, according to Keyhole.

“I do have an iPhone, but as a customer of Apple’s, am I not allowed to hold them accountable?” Mr. Knight, the activist who used an iPhone to call for an Apple boycott, said in an interview.

Eddy Cue, a senior executive at Apple, recently said that the NRA channel didn’t violate the company’s policies. Facebook, Google and Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Many of those who recently abandoned their Facebook accounts are still in the company’s orbit, not only with Instagram but also with the company’s popular messaging apps WhatsApp and Messenger.

When Cher recently deleted her Facebook page, she said on Twitter, “2day I did something VERY HARD 4 me.” But her Instagram account, with 768,000 followers, was still active.

Likewise, Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla, deleted the Facebook pages of both companies — but left their pages and his personal account active on Instagram. The photo-sharing platform, he said on Twitter, is fine “so long as it stays fairly independent.”

Stephen Cox, 39, a woodworker in Los Angeles, recently posted on Facebook that he was deactivating his account in favor of Instagram. When someone commented that the two sites were owned by the same company, he replied, “It’s a double-edged sword, but for me one edge is slightly more blunt than the other.”

Instagram has proved an effective hedge for Facebook against people losing interest or trust in its main site. While the percentage of American adults who use Facebook has remained flat at 68 percent since 2016, according to a January survey of 2,002 American adults by the Pew Research Center, Instagram use rose to 35 percent from 28 percent over that period. Instagram is also more popular with younger people than older people, according to the survey.

Rayven Bruzzese, 26, a sign-language student in Philadelphia, said she had been a frequent user of Facebook for years but deleted her account in March because she found it upsetting and a drain on her time. Now she spends her time on Instagram.

While she acknowledged the irony of moving to another Facebook-owned service, she said her options were limited. Few of her friends are on Twitter, and many have stopped using Snapchat.

“Where am I supposed to go?” she said. “I wish there was something else.”

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Laura Ingraham, Facing Boycott, Apologizes for Taunting Parkland Survivor David Hogg


Mr. Hogg said he has grown accustomed to being criticized, often ruthlessly. But to hear a prominent television host mock his college rejections was “extremely frustrating,” he said.

“I’m not going to stoop to her level and go after her on a personal level,” he said. “I’m going to go after her advertisers.”

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Fox News’s primetime host Laura Ingraham speaks at a fundraiser for Republican senate candidate Kelli Ward in Scottsdale, Az last year.

Credit
Laura Segall for The New York Times

Ms. Ingraham’s remarks went too far for TripAdvisor, which said it planned to stop advertising on the show and that it did not “condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster.”

“We also believe Americans can disagree while still being agreeable, and that the free exchange of ideas within a community, in a peaceful manner, is the cornerstone of our democracy,” the company said through a spokesman. “In our view, these statements focused on a high school student cross the line of decency.”

Nutrish, a pet food brand owned by Rachael Ray, said it was “in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program.”

“The comments she has made are not consistent with how we feel people should be treated,” the company said.

Wayfair, an e-commerce company, said in a statement that it supports “open dialogue and debate on issues,” but that it would stop advertising on Ms. Ingraham’s show.

“The decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values,” the company said.

Consumers have increasingly used social media to demand that advertisers respond to a series of controversies, particularly those involving Fox News hosts. Last year, more than 50 brands pulled ads from “The O’Reilly Factor” after The New York Times reported on settlements that the show’s host, Bill O’Reilly, had made with women who accused him of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior, which contributed to his ouster.

Similar boycott calls around the host Sean Hannity did not gain as much traction. In November, several brands that initially said they would stop advertising on Mr. Hannity’s show after comments he made about Roy S. Moore, the former Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, later walked back those statements. Keurig ignited a firestorm when it said that it planned to halt ads on the show, as Mr. Hannity’s fans posted videos of themselves destroying its machines. The company’s chief executive later apologized to employees for any negativity they had faced from the “appearance of ‘taking sides.’”

Mr. Hogg said he was glad that some companies had pulled their ads from Ms. Ingraham’s program, but called it “just the beginning.”

If all of her advertisers pulled out, he said, “we can show that if you continue to bully the students that survived a mass murder, there’s going to be consequences.”

“Deal with the issues, not the individuals,” he said.

Mr. Hogg plans to study either journalism or political science, he said. He confirmed that he had been rejected from four schools: University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Diego; University of California, Santa Barbara; and University of California, Irvine.

He said he had been accepted by Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; California State University San Marcos; and Florida Atlantic University, but has not decided which school he’ll attend.

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