Mark Luckie, a black, former Facebook employee, has hit out at the social networking firm, bluntly describing it as having “a black people problem.”
Luckie was Facebook’s strategic partner manager for global influencers until early November this year, and before he left he sent all of Facebook’s employees around the world, an extraordinary memo.
Facebook is not having a good time of it lately. Only this week the British Parliament exacted a measure of revenge against CEO Mark Zuckerberg after he refused to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) looking into the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This was despite him agreeing to appear before the European Parliament as well as US lawmakers.
This week the British Parliament employed rarely used powers to force the boss of a US software firm to hand over sensitive court documents.
The boss of US tech firm Six4Three, whilst he was on a trip to London, was forced to surrender US legal documents about Facebook to the House of Commons serjeant-at-arms.
But now Facebook has been hit with allegations of it allowing under-represented groups to be systematically excluded from communication.
Indeed, Luckie alleged that black employees are commonly told “I didn’t know black people worked at Facebook.”
Luckie made a number of allegations in his “memo”, including claims that he saw Facebook moderators remove potentially offensive posts by black users, while the same posts by white people were left up despite user complaints.
“Non-black people are reporting what are meant to be positive efforts as hate speech, despite them often not violating Facebook’s terms of service,” he wrote. “Their content is removed without notice. Accounts are suspended indefinitely.”
Luckie also alleged he had experienced discrimination in the office, with co-workers sometimes clutched their wallets when he walked by.
“Racial discrimination at Facebook is real,” he wrote. “I’ve heard far too many stories from black employees of a colleague or manager calling them “hostile” or “aggressive” for simply sharing their thoughts in a manner not dissimilar from their non-Black team members.”
“On a personal note, at least two or three times a day, every day, a colleague at MPK [Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park] will look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass,” he wrote. “The frequency is even higher when walking through Classic campus or Building 20.”
And he alleged that black Facebook employees who turn to the HR department are made to believe such “disheartening patterns are a figment of our imagination.”
“It becomes clear that the conversations with HR are more often than not meant to protect the manager and the status quo of Facebook, not support the employee,” he wrote.
But Facebook has disagreed with Luckie and the firm said it was working hard to be a truly inclusive company.
A Facebook spokesman told Reuters that the company has been working to increase employee diversity.
“We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviors that add up. We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company,” the spokesman said.
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