Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Ex-employee: 'Facebook has a black people problem'

Ex-employee: 'Facebook has a black people problem'

"I was really excited".

His 2,500-word note, posted on Tuesday, outlines what he sees as a culture that talks about inclusion, but does not practise it. "I didn't plan to leave".

The company's since-severed relationship with the company it hired, Definers Public Affairs, began a year ago when Facebook came under enormous pressure to answer to Russian interference in the 2016 election that used the platform. "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", Luckie wrote, linking out to past media coverage of the issue. The former Facebook staffer reflects on moments of prejudice and racism he experience in his time with the company.

'I had to write what all the black employees are saying and feeling and we don't feel empowered to speak up about'.

He noted that black employees now represent four percent of Facebook's workforce as compared to two percent in 2016. He alleged that black people experiences were rationalized away or they were made to believe these disheartening patterns are a figment of our imagination.

Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison this week answered Luckie's concern in a statement: "The growth in representation of people from more diverse groups, working in many different functions across the company, is a key driver of our ability to succeed". In some buildings, there are more "Black Lives Matter" posters than there are actually black people.

However, Luckie makes it clear that Facebook still has much more work to do.

"I nodded and didn't make any sudden movement and thankfully the encounters were brief", he said.

He said that despite African Americans being one of the platforms most engaged demographics, with 63 per cent using Facebook to communicate with family and 60 per cent using the platform to communicate with friends at least once a day, compared to 53 per cent and 54 per cent of the total population respectively, their efforts to create safe spaces on the site are being obstructed by Facebook itself. Meanwhile, many other black employees can recount stories of "being aggressively accosted" by Facebook's own campus security, he said.

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"A few black employees have reported being specifically dissuaded by their managers from becoming active in the (internal) Black@ group or doing "Black stuff", even if it happens outside of work hours".

In fact, Luckie said that black people are far outpacing any other group on the platform "in a slew of engagement metrics". Its stock is down about 25 per cent in the previous year.

"Over the last few years, we've been working diligently to increase the range of perspectives among those who build our products and serve the people who use them throughout the world. We will continue doing everything we can to be a genuinely inclusive organization".

Mark Luckie, who is black, said Facebook's percentage of black workers isn't illustrative of its black user base.

Racial discrimination at the company "is real", Luckie said. "But every time I get in, there's no line for me to actually do what I want to get done".

Luckie's note comes at an attempting time for Facebook, which is now under the microscope for its treatment of Russian impedance in USA elections and the spread of misinformation on its administration and in addition, stagnating and declining user growth in key markets.

He said that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement but had been intentional about not sharing anything confidential.

Luckie told USA Today: "I wish I didn't have to write it". "I think it's more important to stand up and say something".

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