La Colombe CEO Todd Carmichael: People should boycott Facebook and Twitter

The social media platforms are a “danger to democracy,” said the Philly coffee exec.

Todd Carmichael at the Fishtown La Colombe coffee shop

Todd Carmichael at the Fishtown La Colombe coffee shop

Danya Henninger

Outspoken coffee mogul Todd Carmichael has been a heavy user of both Twitter and Facebook, where he shares and promotes progressive ideas about social justice and equality.

Now he’s quitting both platforms — at least temporarily — and encouraging others to follow suit.

On Wednesday, the CEO of Philly-based La Colombe Torrefaction tweeted that his @toddcarmichael handle was “going dark.”

That same day on Facebook, he announced he would be suspending his account. He has also divested from “any and all social media platforms,” he told Billy Penn, and recommends “everyone doing the same.”

The act stems from frustration with the troll-filled, bot-heavy environment of both apps, which Carmichael described as a possible “danger to democracy.”

“They offer connection, interaction and association with folks around the country and even world, which I value,” he said, “yet these same platforms are polluted with bots, compensated trolls and bot farm campaigns.”

Until Facebook and Twitter make major moves to combat these problems — as well as move to ensure the safety of personal data they collect — Carmichael has sworn them off.

Calls for users to leave Facebook have spiked over the past few days, after it was reported that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used private FB user data to run advertising and promotional campaigns that may have influenced the 2016 elections.

That’s just the latest in a series of examples that show just how much control the social media companies wield.

While Facebook execs struggle to come up with a response for how they’re dealing with privacy breaches and accusations that it enables the spread of so-called fake news, leaders at Twitter are being taken to task for enabling toxic harassment, bullying and hate speech.

For Carmichael, who is politically active on issues ranging from workforce equality to immigration to gun control, there wasn’t one particular social media breach or happening that inspired his departure.

“I promised myself I would give both Mark [Zuckerberg] and Jack [Dorsey] time to take actions,” he said, referring to the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter, respectively, “and that time has expired.”

The reasoning behind the move is that if enough people quit, it will force the companies to action by hitting them where it hurts — on the bottom line.

“Doing it will depress their ‘user totals’ which will affect their stock prices in the short term,” he explained. “Change like this will only happen when we react and they feel the financial pinch.”

Said Carmichael: “Boycotting these platforms will mean a better tomorrow.”

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