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Facebook's Race Problem Might Be Worse Than We Thought

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 25/02/2016 Damon Beres
ATHENA IMAGE © David Ramos via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

Mark Zuckerberg just made a strong statement in support of Black Lives Matter -- but it happened for a pretty awful reason.

Facebook employees are crossing out the words "black lives matter" on a signature wall at the company's "MPK" headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and replacing them with "all lives matter," Gizmodo reported Thursday.

"There have been several recent instances of people crossing out 'black lives matter' and writing 'all lives matter' on the walls at MPK," Zuckerberg wrote on an internal company website, according to a screenshot obtained by Gizmodo.

"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," he continued. "I was already very disappointed by this disrespectful behavior before, but after my communication I now consider this malicious as well."

A representative for Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post. But Leslie Miley, an advocate for diversity in Silicon Valley who left Twitter last year over disagreements on that exact topic, told HuffPost that he saw the post for himself.

"I am so discouraged today. This is so discouraging to me," Miley said.

Miley told HuffPost that he isn't remotely surprised that this is happening at Facebook. The company is a lot of things, but diverse isn't one of them. More than half of its employees are white, while only 2 percent are black. Seventy-three percent of its senior leadership is white.

A lot of this has to do with referrals and recruiting, Miley said. Companies like Facebook pull talent from top schools, many of which are also very white. Then, employees refer people who look like them.

"If you want to change the ratio, stop referrals," Miley told HuffPost.

Facebook has been making efforts to improve -- as evidenced by the fact that it publicly disclosed its diversity numbers to begin with. Zuckerberg's message to his employees also mentions a "Black@" town hall that he encourages staff to attend in order to "educate themselves about what the Black Lives Matter movement is about."

But maybe that's not enough.

"Stop talking to your employees and start acting," Miley said.

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