Mark Zuckerberg is going to bat for someone with different views than him and it's got the attention of the Internet.
The Facebook founder recently posted in a Facebook employee forum to discuss Peter Thiel, a member of the Facebook board who recently donated $1.25 million to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Thiel, an icon of Silicon Valley who helped bring down the media outlet Gawker with a series of lawsuits, has received backlash from the tech community for his Trump support.
Critics of Zuckerberg say that Thiel's support of Trump equates to condoning xenophobia, racism, and sexual assault. If Zuckerberg is defending Thiel, he's defending people's rights to support those ideals and actions. Cory Doctorow, in an article on Boing Boing, put it thusly: "presumably, they feel the same way about the millions who believe in the ideology of Osama bin Laden."
"There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault," Zuckerberg wrote. "It may be because they believe strongly in smaller government, a different tax policy, health care system, religious issues, gun rights or any other issue where he disagrees with Hillary."
Here is the leaked post:
Facebook confirmed the authenticity of the post, but has yet to offer any comment on it.
News of Thiel's endorsement and Zuckerberg's defense comes after a series of important stories broke around Facebook and the viewpoints of its employees. First, Zuckerberg made headlines when he asked employees to stop replacing the phrase "Black Lives Matter" with "All Lives Matter" in drawings that covered the walls of Facebook's office.
"There are specific issues affecting the black community in the United States, coming from a history of oppression and racism," Zuckerberg wrote in a similarly private forum at the time. "'Black lives matter' doesn't mean that other lives don't — it's simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve."
Then, Facebook recently purged a team of journalists that curated its trending bar in response to accusations that it was maintaining a liberal bias.
Other critics have also pointed out that despite his effort to defend "diversity," Facebook's board of directors is all white and mostly male. A July 2016 "diversity update" showed that Facebook's staff is 52 percent white and 67 percent male. The company's workforce is just 2 percent Black, 4 percent Latino and 33 percent female.
All this comes as BuzzFeed reported that far-left and right-wing Facebook pages are producing copious amounts of misleading or outright false stories. "A BuzzFeed News analysis found that three big right-wing Facebook pages published false or misleading information 38% of the time during the period analyzed, and three large left-wing pages did so in nearly 20% of posts," they wrote.
But judging by Zuckerberg's post, diversity — specifically diversity of opinions — is something he plans to keep standing by.
"We care deeply about diversity," Zuckerberg wrote in his post. "That's easy to say when it means standing up for ideas you agree with. It's a lot harder when it means standing up for the rights of people with different viewpoints to say what they care about."