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Can This Wee British Lad Cure Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook Coal Problem?

A cute British kid takes Mark Zuckerberg to task for taking the lazy, dirty way out in powering Facebook's massive new data center.

There's a new film out that bashes Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's self-serving and greedy business leadership. No, I'm not talking about The Social Network, and it's actually more of a web video than a film, but this new animation released by Greenpeace is a sharp and timely jab. No doubt sensing that Zuckerberg might be looking to subdue any negative PR these days, and might particularly responsive to public pressure, Greenpeace launched the Facebook: Unfriend Coal campaign early in September, complete with this biting, and undeniably cute, video narrated by a little British kid (who Aaron Sorkin might want to recruit for his next project).


My favorite lines:

Facebook lives in a big box full of computers, and all the Facebook pictures and words and faces are kept inside it. And the box is in Oregon. Facebook in the box eats a lot of special food called electricity.

A good way of making electricity is by letting cheeky clouds with lips blow windmills round and round, but silly Mark Zuckerberg chose dirty old coal.


The background: Facebook announced in February that it's going to build a massive new data center in Oregon. The company certainly has the heft and leverage to facilitate whatever clean energy power purchasing agreement it wants, but it chose to purchase from PacificCorp, a utility that imports coal-fired electricity from Wyoming. Now let's be clear: The data center itself is pretty ambitious in its energy-efficiency measures, and will itself qualify for LEED Gold certification. And they did choose to locate it in Oregon, a state with one of the most ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standards in the country, ensuring that the data center will at least be 25 percent powered by "renewable" energy by 2025.

Zuckerberg is clearly flustered, updating his status to basically say, hey Greenpeace hippies, get off my back:

Now I'm not certain how 100 percent concrete his hydro claim is there. According to PacificCorp's own literature (pdf), 58 percent of their power is coal-generated, and only 11 percent is hydro. And there hasn't been any public announcement about a special purchase agreement between Facebook and the utility, which I highly doubt they'd keep quiet, considering their hunger for positive PR these days.

Sure, Zuckerberg can rightly claim that they're "moving in the right direction." But they're sure not moving very fast, nor with any real ambition. Some companies understand their power and position in society and the responsibility that comes with that. (Google and Walmart come to mind.) Facebook clearly isn't there yet. If you use the site, you can help send Zuckerberg the message.

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