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Dear Zuckerberg: Coal is not your friend

Dear Zuckerberg: Coal is not your friend

I’ve written before that shaming is not a very effective social marketing strategy, but what if that public shame is aimed at just one person?

With “The Social Network” about to premiere, here is “The SoCOAL Network”:

The result is a very shareworthy video from Greenpeace. The animation style, the British boy voiceover, and even Mark Zuckerberg’s penis all contribute to a very entertaining watch, and it’s a refreshing change of strategy for an organization best known for its more radical tactics.


My only regret is that they pegged their case solely on climate change. Not to take anything away from the enormity of that issue, but even climate change deniers can be swayed by the more immediate effects of coal plant pollution—such as mercury contamination, acid rain, and triggering potentially fatal respiratory conditions such as asthma attacks in the vulnerable.

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International explained the cause behind the video in the Huffington Post:

In a letter that I sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on September 1st, I questioned his decision to locate, then double the size of, Facebook’s data centre in Prineville, Oregon—a location with an over-reliance on dirty energy.

Our complaint, and that of 500,000 Facebook users who joined a Facebook group calling for the company to use clean energy to power its social network, is that Mr. Zuckerberg is not growing his company responsibly.

There’s simply no denying that we need to kick our coal habit in order to halt climate change. A company such as Facebook, which now has 500 million users world-wide, can have both a direct and indirect effect on this reality. Direct because the company can reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by phasing coal out of its electricity use. Indirect in that a true display of leadership will set a high bar for the rest of the industry and help catalyze a clean energy transformation.

My letter was met with a response from Facebook, in which he touts Facebook’s energy efficiency measures, but unfortunately misses the point that the source of electricity used to power Facebook’s facilities is of utmost importance given the company’s fast expansion.

Kumi has taken his case to the court of social media. Will you share this video? Will you pressure Mark Zuckerberg and other social entrepreneurs to show some leadership in using clean energy to power their operations? Will you make cleaner choices yourself?

It’s all in your hands. Nice feeling, isn’t it?

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I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more