CrossFit Inc., the rights holder to the CrossFit fitness regimen, announced it will cease the use of its Facebook and Instagram pages for the time being, citing a lineup of objections to how Facebook operates both social media platforms and its business at large.
“CrossFit, Inc. has placed Facebook and its associated properties under review and will no longer support or use Facebook’s services until further notice,” the company said in a May 23 release.
The company has a significant presence on both platforms. Its Facebook page has 3.1 million followers, its Instagram 2.9 million. Its CrossFit Games pages have 2.7 million followers on Facebook and 2.4 million on Instagram, according to the CrossFit newsletter, Morning Chalk Up.
CrossFit is now encouraging people to follow it on its websites as well as on Twitter and YouTube.
The boycott was triggered after Facebook removed a South African user group called “Banting7DayMealPlan.”
That was “the final straw,” CrossFit founder Greg Glassman said, according to the newsletter.
“The group has 1.65 million users who post testimonials and other information regarding the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet,” CrossFit said.
The page was taken down without explanation and later reinstated without explanation, the release said. “Facebook’s action should give any serious person reason to pause, especially those of us engaged in activities contrary to prevailing opinion.”
CrossFit describes itself as “a contrarian physiological and nutrition prescription” with a “community of 15,000 affiliates and millions of individual adherents stands steadfastly and often alone against an unholy alliance of academia, government, and multinational food, beverage, and pharmaceutical companies.”
It’s regimen called “CrossFit Essentials” consists of “constantly varied high-intensity functional movement coupled with meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.”
CrossFit argues that Facebook, with its nearly 2.4 billion users worldwide, oversees “a significant share of the marketplace of public thought” and “thus serves as a de facto authority over the public square, arbitrating a worldwide exchange of information as well as overseeing the security of the individuals and communities who entrust their ideas, work, and private data to this platform,” the release states.
“This mandates a certain responsibility and assurance of good faith, transparency, and due process.”
The company continues by saying that “when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community,” CrossFit “can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square.”
“Common decency demands that we do so, as do our convictions regarding fitness, health, and nutrition, which sit at the heart of CrossFit’s identity and prescription,” it says.
CrossFit lists eight objections to Facebook, including that the company shares users’ information with government authorities both in the United States and overseas, participates in mass government surveillance, sells users’ information, has weak intellectual property protections, and poor security that has led to data breaches.
It further argues that “Facebook censors and removes user accounts based on unknown criteria and at the request of third parties including government and foreign government agencies” and that “Facebook’s news feeds are censored and crafted to reflect the political leanings of Facebook’s utopian socialists while remaining vulnerable to misinformation campaigns designed to stir up violence and prejudice.”
Finally, it says, “Facebook is acting in the service of food and beverage industry interests by deleting the accounts of communities that have identified the corrupted nutritional science responsible for unchecked global chronic disease.”
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.
Facebook has faced scorn from multiple angles with different political factions coming with different mixes of complaints largely along the lines of those voiced by CrossFit, be it concerns over data privacy, election meddling, or censorship.
The criticism has reached a point where even conservatives are considering government intervention into the tech giants that wield power over the online discourse.
The Trump administration has recently set up a website where people can file a report if they believe their social media accounts have been banned, suspended, or otherwise affected because of political bias.
The Trump Administration is fighting for free speech online.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 15, 2019
“SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH,” the site says. “Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear ‘violations’ of user policies.”
“We are monitoring and watching, closely!!” President Donald Trump commented in a May 3 tweet.
I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019