In an exclusive interview with Associated Press, Selena opened up about her fight with biggest corporations in the world against hate and violence, check out excerpts from her interview.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Jan. 6, just hours before the Capitol riot, Gomez said she’s been frustrated by what she views as the companies’ lackluster response. She said they have to “stop doing the bare minimum.”
“It isn’t about me versus you, one political party versus another. This is about truth versus lies and Facebook, Instagram and big tech companies have to stop allowing lies to just flow and pretend to be the truth,” Gomez said in a phone interview from New York. “Facebook continues to allow dangerous lies about vaccines and COVID and the U.S. election, and neo-Nazi groups are selling racist products via Instagram.
“Enough is enough,” she said.
Gomez became passionate about the issue in 2017 when a 12-year-old commented on one of her Instagram posts: “Go kill yourself.”
“That was my tipping point,” she said. “I couldn’t handle what I was seeing.”
“The operational planning was happening in spaces that Selena, for example, was identifying to Sheryl Sandberg in advance saying, ‘You know, we need to do something about white supremacist extremism online and their ability to just form a group on Facebook and happily talk away to each other, plan what they’re going to do next,’” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which has helped educate Gomez about online misinformation.
In emails shared exclusively with the AP, Gomez told Sandberg in September that “a search for a militia group ‘Three Percenters’ results in dozens of pages, groups and videos focused on people hoping and preparing for civil war, and there are dozens of groups titled ‘white lives matter’ that are full of hate and lies that might lead to people being hurt or, even worse, killed.”
In the same email, Gomez also points to several ads with lies about election fraud being allowed to remain on Facebook and Instagram and questions why that was being allowed.
“I can’t believe you can’t check ads before you take money, and if you can’t you shouldn’t be profiting from it,” she wrote. “You’re not just doing nothing. You’re cashing in from evil.”
In an email response to Gomez, Sandberg defends Facebook’s efforts to remove harmful content, saying the platform has removed millions of posts for hate speech, and bans ads that are divisive, inflammatory, or discourage people from voting. She didn’t directly address the advertising examples Gomez pointed to.
“It’s beating around the bush and saying what people want to hear,” Gomez said about her interactions with Sandberg and Google, among others. “I think at this point we’ve all learned that words don’t match up unless the action is going to happen.”
Meanwhile, Gomez vows to keep fighting as long as she has a pedestal.
“While I have this, I’m going to do good things with it,” she said. “I think that’s my purpose.”