Facebook can be a harrowing place for people to express their darkest, most insidious opinions about race and politics. Facebook's own headquarters might be as well.
At Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters, whenever the words "Black Lives Matter" go up on company whiteboards, someone changes them to "All Lives Matter," according to Mic's sources. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg condemned the anti-Black Lives Matter vandalism in an internal memo obtained by Gizmodo.
According to Mic's sources within Facebook, this has been an ongoing problem for a few weeks. At the Menlo Park headquarters, there are a number of whiteboards around the office where employees and visitors alike can write and brainstorm freely. Lately, up to 10 or 15 incidences of the words "Black Lives Matter" being changed to "All Lives Matter" were posted to internal groups and communication channels.
Each time, Facebook staff condemned the actions, though it was unclear who was doing it, how many people, or if they were a Facebook employee or visitor, according to Mic's sources.
Facebook has never regulated employees' use of those boards, but recently management has been concerned that these incidents warrant some attention. Zuckerberg told employees that an investigation is now underway.
"Despite my clear communication at Q&A last week that this was unacceptable, and messages from several other leaders from across the company, this has happened again," Zuckerberg wrote in his memo. "I was already very disappointed by this disrespectful behavior before, but after my communication I now consider this malicious as well."
Zuckerberg's memo included a reasonable description of why the phrase "All Lives Matter" has racial undertones, noting that it undermines the "specific issues affecting the black community."
"I was already very disappointed by this disrespectful behavior before, but after my communication I now consider this malicious as well."
Representation problems: Companies like Facebook and Twitter have created powerful platforms that have fueled modern movements for social justice — untold words have been spilled over the role of Twitter and online organization to movements like Black Lives Matter and the Arab Spring.
Still, these tools were created by cultures that are still predominantly white. Only 5% of Facebook employees are black or Latino — 3% at Twitter. And for those who say that Twitter, for example, is blind to how it solves its harassment and abuse problems, this lack of representation creates a blindness in how to cater to the needs of its diverse user base.
Google, Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants have made small steps on the way to diversifying the white tech culture of Silicon Valley, appointing diversity officers and instituting unconscious bias training for employees.
But put up a big confessional booth and hand someone a marker, and we see that we have a long way to go.