Tue. Dec 11th, 2018

Facebook And Its ‘Black People Problem’

Mark Luckie left Facebook

When it rains, it pours – and Facebook’s utterly sodden year continues to be flooded by accusations of bad governance.

Mark Luckie, a black, former Facebook employee whose job it was to handle the firm’s relationship with “influencers”, put it quite plainly: “Facebook has a black people problem.”

“Black people are finding that their attempts to create ‘safe spaces’ on Facebook for conversation among themselves are being derailed by the platform itself.

“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.”

Mr Luckie’s comments rippled around social media. And what followed next fell into line with what’s now a familiar pattern: Facebook puts out a conciliatory statement, only to have it later undermined by leaks of internal discussions that seem to show a different picture.

‘Self-serving’

First came the public statement, from Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison.

“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.

“We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviours that add up. We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company.”

But then, the internal leak. While Mr Luckie’s post was made public on Tuesday, it had been circulated at Facebook on 8 November. At that time it received a response from Ime Archibong, Facebook’s director of product partnerships.

On Tuesday, Mr Luckie posted that response on Twitter, suggesting Facebook’s tone publicly did not necessarily match what was said to him internally.

Mr Luckie seemed to attempt to protect Mr Archibong’s identity by blurring his name and picture, but missed one mention of “Ime” elsewhere on the screen, revealing the source. Mr Archibong – who is also black – has confirmed he wrote the comments.

He described Mr Luckie’s note as “pretty self-serving and disingenuous” and accused him of having a “selfish agenda and not one that has the best intentions of the community and people you likely consider friends at heart”.