Ex-manager says Facebook 'has a black people problem'

Image: Mark S. Luckie
Mark S. Luckie Copyright getluckie.net
By Chandelis R. Duster with NBC News Tech and Science News
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"Racial discrimination at Facebook is real," wrote Mark Luckie, a former manager at the social networking giant.


The Facebook manager who wrote a memo accusing the company of systemic racism has described an atmosphere that he said was dismissive when he raised the issue with the company's human resources department.

Mark S. Luckie, who was a manager on the company's entertainment and partnerships team, on Tuesday publicly posted the memo in which he alleges that Facebook "has a black people problem."

Luckie said in a phone interview with NBC News that he brought the issue to Facebook's attention, which downplayed the issue.

"It was basically: 'You're not being a team player. You have these concerns, but it's just part of your job,'" Luckie said. "I track every email so I was basically like, 'I have the receipts,' and they had none. But I was made out to be the person who was sort of going against the grain."

Mark S. Luckie
Mark S. Luckiegetluckie.net

Luckie's memo, which he said he also sent to the Facebook's more than 33,000 employees shortly before leaving earlier this month, details his experiences at the company.

"Racial discrimination at Facebook is real," Luckie wrote.

Luckie alleged that black employees were told they were being "hostile" or "aggressive" when sharing thoughts in a way that was different from nonblack employees.

Luckie also said that Facebook was failing the black community.

"Black people are finding that their attempts to create 'safe spaces' on Facebook for conversation among themselves are being derailed by the platform itself," he wrote, adding that black users have their posts marked as hate speech and their accounts suspended by employees who are not black.

He also recounted personal experiences at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, like a colleague who would pretend to hide his wallet in his pocket whenever Luckie walked by, as if he were going to rob him.

Luckie's letter comes at a time when employees of large tech companies are beginning to go public with concerns aboutworkplace culture and ethics, though Facebook employees have generally remained quiet.

Anthony Harrison, a spokesperson for Facebook, said the company has been "working diligently to increase the range of perspectives among those who build our products and serve the people who use them throughout the world."

Black Lives Matter

"We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviors that add up," Harrison said in an email. "We are going to keep doing all we can to be a truly inclusive company."

Luckie later said on Twitter that he appreciated Facebook's response to the public post, but that "the tone is noticeably different from the only response I received from senior leadership after sharing the post internally."

Luckie received support from other black people in the tech industry who noted that he had taken a risk by speaking out publicly.

"People don't really understand the risk associated with speaking up and speaking out," tweeted Snapchat employee Erica Williams Simon. "Thanks for adding your voice to the countless others who are telling their truths and fighting for what is right."

"Sad and very representative of my experience in big tech," tweeted Leslie Miley, the chief technical officer for the Obama Foundation and a former employee of Twitter and Slack.


On Wednesday, Luckie tweeted his thanks for the support he has received.

"The issues unfortunately go far deeper than I was able to cover in the note," he said. "My hope is that one day Facebook will be as inclusive and full of color as the posters on its walls."

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