The Washington Post

Facebook chief Zuckerberg’s immigration reform group faces backlash, the nonprofit organization Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg founded, is losing some of its star support. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

It has been only a month since Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, pulled together an impressive roster of tech executives to advocate for immigration reform through, a nonprofit lobbying organization.

But the group is already losing some of its star power.

Some environmental groups are complaining that has funded television ads supporting politicians who back construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and proposals to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The ads do not mention immigration reform but support politicians who may be able to help ease immigration proposals through the Senate.

Tesla and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk and Yammer chief executive David Sacks withdrew support from the group Friday.

Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks confirmed that Musk has left the group but did not elaborate on why. confirmed that two supporters, including Musk, had left the group but did not confirm Sacks’s departure. Yammer, a social-media company owned by Microsoft, did not respond to a request for comment, but Sacks’s name has been removed from the advocacy group’s Web site.

See which amendments were adopted into the immigration bill

The ads were bankrolled by a subsidiary of called Americans for a Conservative Direction.

Several left-leaning groups, including and the Sierra Club, said last week they would no longer display ads on Facebook. Wireless carrier Credo Mobile, which advocates on liberal issues, has gone further, launching a petition Monday calling for Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman to follow Musk and Sacks and distance themselves from the group.

“We want to ask: Is this really the kind of politics you want to be involved in?” said Becky Bond, Credo Mobile’s political director. “In the tech world, we have more a belief in transparency. It’s surprising that a bunch of tech giants who are so smart when it comes to running their businesses could be so dumb as they get involved in politics.”

Neither Yahoo nor LinkedIn responded to a request for comment on the petition.

In a statement, spokeswoman Kate Hansen said the group recognizes “that not everyone will always agree with or be pleased by our strategy — and we’re grateful for the continued support of our dedicated founders and major contributors. remains totally committed to supporting a bipartisan policy agenda that will boost the knowledge economy, including comprehensive immigration reform.”

The group’s other supporters include Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates; and Napster co-founder and founding Facebook president Sean Parker.

While several members of Facebook’s staff, including chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, have extensive experience inside the Beltway, Zuckerberg’s decision to found the group marked his first major foray into political advocacy.

In a Washington Post op-ed announcing, Zuckerberg called current U.S. immigration policy “unfit for today’s world.” would like the government to increase the number of short-term visas, known as H1Bs, it issues every year, potentially making it easier for the tech industry to hire foreign-born computer engineers. In his op-ed, Zuckerberg said the group wouldstrongly support those willing to take the tough stands necessary to promote these policies in Washington.”

Facebook declined to comment for this article.

(The Washington Post Co.’s chairman and chief executive, Donald E. Graham, is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

Related stories:

Liberal groups boycotting Facebook over immigration push

Why Mark Zuckerberg cares about immigration reform

Facebook flexes political muscle with provision in immigration bill

Zuckerberg Op-ed: Immigration and the knowledge economy

Sign up today to receive #thecircuit, a daily roundup of the latest tech policy news from Washington and how it is shaping business, entertainment and science.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
In search of the Delmarva fox squirrel
The most interesting woman you've never heard of
Play Videos
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Play Videos
Philadelphia's real signature sandwich
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.