In Depth

Why Facebook is facing racism accusations

Employees claim the social media giant treats people of colour as if they ‘do not belong’

A group of Facebook employees have accused the social media giant of tolerating discrimination against against its black, Hispanic and female employees.

In a blog post published on the Medium platform, 12 current and former Facebook employees claim that people of colour are “treated every day through the micro and macro aggressions as if we do not belong here”.

The unnamed staff members say that “things have gotten worse” since another employee came forward with similar claims last year. 

So exactly what has happened?

The blog post, titled “Facebook Empowers Racism Against Its Employees of Color”, was published on Medium last week and includes “descriptions of discrimination and hostility” that the authors claim to have experienced at the company, says The Guardian.

One member of the group who describes themself as a “program manager” says they were told by two white employees to “clean up after their mess” while eating breakfast. “I told my manager about the incident. She told me I need to dress more professionally,”  they write.

Another staff member claims that after complaining to HR about alleged discrimination, they were told that “there is no bias at Facebook” and no action was taken.

The blog post also includes screenshots of Blind, an anonymous community app for the workplace, showing messages from Facebook employees claiming that the black population of the US is less intelligent and more violent than other races.

The whistle-blowers write: “Racism, discrimination, bias, and aggression do not come from the big moments.

“It’s in the small actions that mount up over time and build into a culture where we are only meant to be seen as quotas, but never heard, never acknowledged, never recognised, and never accepted.”

In response to the allegations, Facebook issued an apology on Friday, saying that “no one at Facebook, or anywhere, should have to put up with this behaviour”.

Bertie Thomson, vice-president of corporate communications, said: “We are sorry. It goes against everything that we stand for as a company. We’re listening and working hard to do better.”

What were the previous allegations?

In November last year, former Facebook manager Mark Luckie accused the tech giant of having a “black people problem” in a viral post on his Facebook page that detailed his experiences of racism in the company.

Luckie, who had left Facebook weeks earlier, claimed the company was “failing” both “its black employees and its black users”.

“Facebook’s disenfranchisement of black people on the platform mirrors the marginalisation of its black employees,” he wrote. “In my time at the company, 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.” 

Facebook initially deleted the post, before later reinstating it and apologising following facing widespread condemnation. 

The Guardian wrote that Facebook had “appeared to prove Luckie’s point” about censorship of black voices by removing the letter.

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