This post was originally written on the Byteconf blog.
After the release of yesterday's NYT article about Facebook's activities over the last couple years, especially regarding US politics, Byteconf is ending all of our ad spends and campaigns and deleting our Facebook page, effective immediately.
Byteconf is a place where developers from around the world can learn and grow together. I started this project because I know that there are absolutely incredible programmers around the world. In an industry that is still extremely US-focused, it's important to try and build an environment for devs that doesn't care about economic, sociopolitical, or geographical background.
We live in a world that is mediated by software, and by technology. From the open-source projects that we build on the weekends, to the massive codebases we write at our day jobs, what we do as software developers has a huge impact on how every single person in the world lives their lives. The NYT article on FB, and the last few years of investigations into Facebook's involvement with the 2016 election are evidence that Facebook is not just a tech company – it is a massive cultural force that has transitioned into an explicitly political entity.
Byteconf's mission is political too: we believe that any developer around the world should have the opportunities to learn and to feel "at home" within our community. We also believe that we have an obligation to try and build better systems for people to become developers, and to work towards a future where everyone can work day-to-day with dignity, and the opportunity for creative expression.
Facebook's involvement in distributing political propaganda that supports discrimination against particular communities and backgrounds is completely and totally against what Byteconf is all about. For years, the tech community has been giving FB the benefit of the doubt, assuming that any kind of political agenda distributed through Facebook wasn't explicitly supported by the organization itself. It's become clear recently that Facebook is not only serving as a pipeline for distributing these materials, but actually has worked to distribute these materials themselves, as a way of shirking responsibility for their massive impact on the global cultural and political climate.
While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros.
To put it plainly, supporting Facebook by providing them with any revenue via ads (even a small amount!) has become extremely at odds with Byteconf's ideals and our mission.
By the way, we know this stuff is tricky -- we still really love the open-source work that has come out of Facebook, and count many of the people in that community as close friends and collaborators -- because of that, we're sending love and solidarity to those teams at FB: they do absolutely incredible work that has inarguably made the web development world a better place.
That being said -- this probably won't affect most of our audience too much! Discord and Twitter have been the primary way we've engaged with the community and kept people feeling "plugged in". I may have my reservations with Twitter as well, but long-term, we're going to continue bringing people into the Byteconf community, without compromising our mission.