November 11, 2010; Source: | Facebook announced last week that the company would open a new data center in North Carolina. Its sticker price alone—nearly half a billion dollars—is enough to take your breath away, but paralleling the site’s staggering growth in users and revenue is its carbon footprint.

Greenpeace recently launched an effort to convince Facebook that its first data center, which is coal-powered, is detrimental to both the environment and its image. To counter, Facebook launched a PR campaign to tout the ways the company is going green. For example, Facebook, in the announcement of the new data center, bragged about technologies they had developed that permitted twice the data to be processed using the same amount of energy.

Activists at Greenpeace aren’t so impressed, and point to the 600,000 Facebook users who have joined up with their anti-coal campaign as evidence that Facebook’s spin isn’t convincing anybody. About the new data center, Greenpeace’s Gary Cook issued a statement saying, “Facebook has again chosen a location that will increase demand for dirty energy,” and while energy efficiency initiatives are the first step towards bettering their corporate citizenship, steps two, three, and beyond are what comprise a responsible strategy, rather than simply greenwashing.—James David Morgan