Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and our future virtual overlord, has reportedly taken his staff to task for scrawling "all lives matter" over "black lives matter" messages written on the walls of the social network's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters.
The message, posted yesterday as a "private memo…on a company announcement page for employees only," was obtained by Gizmodo and refers to "several instances of people crossing out 'black lives matter' and writing 'all lives matter' on the walls of MPK. [sic]" Zuckerberg is presumably referring to the Facebook signature wall that is a feature of a number of the company's offices worldwide.
This is, apparently, not the first time this problem has reared its head at Facebook. The post continues:
Despite my clear communication at Q&A last week that this was unacceptable, and messages from several other leaders across the company, this has happened again. I was already very disappointed by this disrespectful behavior before, but after my communication I now consider this malicious as well.
Zuckerberg also explains to wayward employees that "'Black Lives Matter' doesn't mean other live's don't—it's simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve." He doesn't say new rules will be put in place, though the company is, apparently, launching an investigation into the incident. He did point out that there have traditionally been no rules about what could be written, and that "crossing out something means silencing speech."
The note closes by inviting employees to attend a town hall on March 4 that will involve learning about the Black Lives Matter movement. It also says, "This has been a deeply hurtful and tiresome experience for the black community and really the entire Facebook community." The black community within Facebook, however, is quite small: figures released by Facebook show that only 2% of employees, and 2% of senior staff, are black.
Problems with diversity in Silicon Valley aren't unique to Facebook: Twitter's staff is also very white, as is Google's, as are the staff's of other large tech companies. And while it's nice (if not totally unexpected) to see a high-profile figure respond this way, an investigation alone seems like a way of treating a symptom, not a disease.
I've reached out to Facebook for comment, and will update this post if they respond.
Update: Facebook tells me they have nothing to add.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org