Facebook Stands Up for Black Lives Matter with Powerful Statement From Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg – the former wunderkind who founded Facebook more than ten years ago – has released a stern criticism of his employees, but it’s not about something they did online. Rather, he is admonishing behavior taking place in a very rudimentary form of social media: A community chalkboard. Specifically, he is troubled by repeated incidents allegedly involving Facebook employees working at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California who are crossing out the words “black lives matter” written on the chalkboard by someone and replacing them with “all lives matter.” His public statement of disapproval is a powerful (and relatively rare) example of a multi-billion dollar corporation taking a vocal political stance – one which aligns the company with the modern-day civil rights movement.
Zuckerberg’s announcement was first shared on the tech website Gizmodo, and as NPR’s Alina Selyukh reports, the decision to make the announcement public came only after repeated offenses. “Zuckerberg says he and other leaders at the company have previously warned employees against doing this,” she writes. She quotes Zuckerberg as having said “I was already very disappointed by this disrespectful behavior before, but after my communication, I now consider this malicious as well.”
As Selyukh mentions, there exists some irony in this having transpired on Facebook’s own campus. “The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ actually traces its origin to a conversation on (italicize) Facebook,” one initiated as a response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Another irony involves the notion of diversity in Facebook’s own ranks. “Facebook remains a company that’s heavily White and male,” she reports. According to statistics gathered by NPR and cited in her report, it appears that Facebook has a long way to go towards a more diverse workforce. With a workforce that is 55% White, only 32% of the tech giant’s employees are women. Only 2% Black, the Facebook organization is 36% Asian, 4% Hispanic, and 3% “other.”
Zuckerberg’s statement also includes his reasoning for not supporting the “all lives matter” argument. “‘Black lives matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t. It’s simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve.” Whether or not specific parties will be punished for the incidents remains to be known, but Zuckerberg has promised an investigation. He has also promised to “hold a town hall next week where staff can ‘educate themselves about what the Black Lives Matter movement is about.'”
Facebook’s very public political statement comes only days after Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged to maintain the security of iPhone users’ private data by not cooperating with the FBI in its ongoing investigation into the San Bernardino, California terrorist attacks, which has apparently stalled because they can’t access the suspect’s cell phone.