Activists protesting against mining activities in the Congo bombarded Intel's Facebook page yesterday demanding that the chip giant address the issue of 'conflict minerals'.
Things got so chaotic at one stage that Intel had to take the page down, but it's here now, with only offensive comments removed.
The chip maker has been hit with a campaign designed to get it to support a congressional bill that seeks to restrict the importation of 'conflict minerals' from the Congo.
A typical message reads: "Intel, make us proud by actively supporting the Conflict Minerals Trade Act (H.R. 4128). You are an industry leader, and an example in many ways. Real innovation means doing things better the right way. Clearly, people are following your actions closely."
Conflict in the Conga is fuelled by the battle over resources, not least valuable minerals used in the production of silicon chips and other IT goods. Intel is a major consumer of such materials.
The Facebook bombardment kicked off on Tuesday, leading Intel to eventually shut down the discussion. "We are in the process of creating a place for this type of discussion and we will share the link of this page as soon as we have it," a spokesman said.
The chip giant quickly came to the conclusion that this was a major PR gaffe and re-opened the page to comments, with only 'offensive' postings being removed.
Intel addressed the issue with a blog post. Suzanne Fallender, Intel’s corporate responsibility spinnerette said: "There has been on-going communication over the last several days about Intel’s position on legislation regarding conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
She said the chip maker has been talking with NGOs and other in the IT business "focused on creating workable solutions"
She reiterated an Intel statement on the matter which reads: "Intel shares the deep concern of many Americans about conflict minerals. Activities related to obtaining minerals that fuel conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are unacceptable.
"We are actively engaged in efforts to identify a solution through our supply chain and together with our industry. We appreciate the recognition of the leadership actions we have taken on this issue to date. We also support the objective of US legislation to address this problem. We want to be certain that the legislation will be implementable, achieve real change in the mineral supply chains and not result in an unintended ban of legitimate trade from the DRC.
"We are working with industry partners, organisations, and Congressional offices to address this. In the meantime, we are not waiting for legislation to continue to drive action in our own supply chain and with our industry. We have offered to schedule a meeting to discuss this issue and will ensure that the appropriate people from Intel participate in such a meeting."
A major IRC survey found that 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes in Congo since 1998 – the world’s deadliest documented conflict since WW II.