Mark Zuckerberg reportedly blamed the ‘global recession’ last month for why Facebook wouldn’t match employee donations amid racial justice protests (FB)

  • Mark Zuckerberg told Facebook employees the company might not be able to introduce a donation-matching program due to the “global recession,” BuzzFeed News reported Thursday.
  • Replying to a request from employees during an all-hands meeting in June amid ongoing racial justice protests, Zuckerberg said Facebook’s revenue was “less than we expected it to be,” according to BuzzFeed.
  • Other major tech companies, such as Apple, have pledged to match employee donations to racial justice causes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, and Facebook eventually announced it would invest $100 million in Black-owned businesses.
  • Facebook has faced widespread criticism from employees, civil rights groups, advertisers, who say the company has not done enough to address systemic racism on its platform or within its company.
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When Facebook employees asked CEO Mark Zuckerberg in June whether the company would introduce a donation-matching program, he replied by telling them to temper their expectations because the company was in “the middle of a global recession,” BuzzFeed News reported Thursday.

As protests against systemic racism swept the nation following the killing of George Floyd, many tech companies announced support for the Black Lives Matter movement and — often due to pressure from their employees — eventually took concrete steps to put money toward racial justice causes.

But as many of its peers pledged to match employees’ donations, Facebook — which at first had committed just $10 million from its corporate coffers — was initially reluctant to do the same, according to BuzzFeed News.

“Our revenue is significantly less than we expected it to be,” Zuckerberg told employees at the all-hands meeting, according to BuzzFeed News.

While Facebook’s business dipped at the beginning of the pandemic, it still managed to beat Wall Street’s revenue expectations last quarter. The company’s stock has already returned to pre-pandemic levels, despite seeing $60 billion in market value erased last month when major advertisers boycotted the platform over its hate speech policies.

Facebook eventually announced it would invest $100 billion in Black-owned businesses and spend at least $100 million with Black-owned suppliers annually starting next year.

The company has faced increasing pushback internally and externally in recent months from critics who say it’s not doing enough to address racial bias in its products, on its platforms, and within its walls.

Employees revolted last month following Zuckerberg’s decision not to remove controversial posts by President Donald Trump about protests against police brutality and racial injustice, while civil rights groups have continued to pressure advertisers to keep up their boycott after Facebook executives including Zuckerberg failed to addressed their concerns in private meetings.

Earlier this month, Facebook also released its first civil-rights audit, which criticized the company’s refusal to fact-check or moderate politicians and called on it to hire more civil-rights experts beyond the one new position it has said it will fill. Despite Facebook’s pledges over the years to increase diversity within its ranks, its latest annual report showed little progress.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story and it was not clear from BuzzFeed News’ reporting whether the company eventually agreed to match employee donations to racial justice causes.

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