Facebook “Likes” Clean Energy

After a two year long Greenpeace campaign, Facebook’s relationship with fossil fuels has become complicated as it forms a new friendship with renewable energy sources.

In February 2010, Greenpeace launched their ‘Unfriend Coal’ campaign. The purpose of the campaign was to get Facebook to use less fossil-fuel based energy. One year later in April 2011, just a short time after the company opened their newest data centre – one powered by coal, the campaign broke the world record for the most comments posted on a Facebook page in 24 hours with over 80, 000 comments.

To many people this kind of desktop activism seems pointless, but in this case it certainly paid off. By December 2011, Facebook announced that it would be opening yet another data centre, three times the size of the 2011 one built in Oregan. The data centre is due to open in 2014 and will be built by the Lule River in Sweden, a location with a cold climate which minimises the amount of energy needed to cool the servers. Why this news is so exciting though is because the centre will mainly be run on hydroelectric power with only a diesel generator as backup.

This move by Facebook to a renewable energy source is just the beginning of their new goal: “to power all our operations with clean and renewable energy.” While they have not given a timeline on when they will make the switch entirely, they have since hired Bill Weihl, the man largely behind Google’s investment in clean energy.

When sitting at your own keyboard, looking at pictures of friends or taking care of your virtual farm, you don’t often consider the energy required for the upkeep of your virtual existence. As more and more of our lives shift to online arenas, there is hope that others will follow the example being set by the social media giant.

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