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Former director says Facebook discriminates, excludes black users and staff



A sign in front of Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez (AP)

Prior to his departure in November, Mark S. Luckie, former head of Facebook's strategic partners for global influencers, sent a 2,500-word note to all employees of the company. He said the company had "a black people problem," the Guardian reported.

In the memo, which Luckie also published Tuesday in a public memo on Facebook, he wrote that blacks "far outnumber other groups on the platform in a multitude of metrics of engagement", constituting one of the most active demographic data of the country. However, he wrote, their interests are largely ignored by society and attempts to remedy the situation have always resulted in little change.

Luckie noted several incidents of black users whose content had been deleted or suspended accounts "with little recourse," while in other cases their requests for help were ignored "up to # 39, that this is a major press article, "as in the case of a major page of Black Lives Matter this was later revealed to be headed by a white Australian hiding behind supposed names. He added that black employees were often treated with disrespect and that Facebook had grown by hiring more black employees, "efforts to promote inclusion, not just diversity, are underway. to be stopped at the management level ":

For any technology company, it is important to have a staff reflecting the communities that the platform seeks to empower if it wishes to succeed. Congratulations to the teams that helped increase the number of black employees from 2% in 2016 to 4% in 2018.

… Although incremental changes are being made, Facebook's employee population does not reflect its most engaged user base. There is often more diversity in Keynote presentations than in the teams that present them. In some buildings, there are more "Black Lives Matter" posters than real blacks. Facebook can not claim that it connects communities if they are not proportionally represented in its workforce.

"Black's disavowal of blacks on the platform reflects the marginalization of its black employees," Luckie wrote. He added that he had heard "far too many stories of black employees" about disrespectful or marginalizing behaviors of colleagues, as well as about the fact that the black staff of the facilities at the time of his visit were "black and white". business was sometimes treated with hostility by security:

In my company, I have heard far too many stories of black employees of a colleague or manager calling them "hostile" or "aggressive" for simply exchanging their thoughts in a way that does not differ from that of their team members who are not black. Some black employees said they were specifically dissuaded by their leaders from becoming active in the sector. [internal] Black @ group or do "black stuff", even if it happens outside of working hours. Too many black employees can tell aggressive accusation stories by campus security, beyond what was needed.

As another example, writes Luckie, at least two or three times a day, colleagues at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, "were looking at me directly and typing or holding their wallets or hand in their pockets to grab it. until I pass. He added that Facebook's human resources department seemed more likely to defend "the director and status quo of Facebook" when concerns about unequal treatment were raised, writing that these "experiences are often streamlined or that We are made to believe these discouraging models. "are a product of our imagination."

At the end of his tenure, Luckie made 10 recommendations, including that any team with at least one diversity staff member should develop a "strategic plan to integrate this work into broader team goals" . Targets set for multiple departments "to reflect Facebook's demographics", implementing more "cultural competency trainings for operations teams" involved in moderation rather than "algorithms or d & # s; 39, "artificial intelligence", and more focus groups devoted to the experience of Black and Latino users. Luckie also wrote that management should create internal systems that allow employees to "anonymously report micro-attacks", such as racially coded language, disproportionately negative criticism of women and minorities, and control over cultural activities "outside of work.

A former black Facebook employee told CNBC not to be surprised to read the note, claiming that the company "defends diversity and inclusion as a marketing opportunity, which may be really meaningful to them. But with regard to the tactical and daily integration of their formation of "unconscious bias", it turns out that it is still a group of extremely privileged whites who make discriminating and discriminatory choices like the others. white leaders of the sector.

Anthony Harrison, spokesperson for Facebook, told CNN in a statement that the company was trying to:

The growth of the representation of people from more diverse groups, who perform various functions within the company, is a key factor in our ability to succeed. We want to fully support all employees when problems are reported and micro-behaviors can add up. We will continue to do everything in our power to become a truly inclusive enterprise.

As CNN noted, Luckie has already worked for other tech companies like Reddit and Twitter, and after leaving this platform, he wrote an article on Medium, pointing out that the main hurdle to a greater diversity was the idea of ​​an "adapted culture":

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, white Americans have 91 times more white friends than black friends. Three-quarters of Whites have completely white social networks, with no minority presence. If current employees do not know anyone of color, they have none to recommend.

Luckie told CNN that he had chosen to send the memo to the public because "Facebook does not make any significant changes at the company level, unless it is held for publicly responsible ". He added that "there has been no response from the leaders.It is not characteristic for something that generates so much conversation.I know that they talked about it.

As the Guardian noted, Luckie also tweeted a screenshot of a conversation with the director of strategic partnerships, Ime Archibong, who told him that he had been "selfish" and hypocritical "and that the posting of the memo served" a selfish agenda ".

Recently, Facebook has experienced an endless series of scandals, including accusations that its platforms have been used for unbridled disinformation efforts and to undermine democracy by political actors, to recklessly process user data, and to engage research firm of the Republican opposition. critics like billionaire philanthropist and survivor of the George Soros Holocaust. In his memo, Luckie wrote that he and other black employees he had talked to alleged that the discrimination they suffered "was a type of behavior deeply related to Facebook's culture. ".

"… Continuing to witness and to be at the center of the systematic disavowal of under-represented voices, even involuntarily, is more than I am willing to sacrifice personally," concluded Luckie. "I lost the will and desire to defend Facebook's interests."

The full note can be read below:

[Mark S. Luckie via The Guardian/CNN]

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