Facebook CEO Mark Zukerberg announced a $10 million donation ‘to groups working on racial justice’. In a post shared late yesterday, Zuckerberg wrote that the pledge of $10 million was ‘additional’ to the roughly $40 million that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invests annually in organisations working to overcome racial injustice.
‘We stand with the Black community – and all those working towards justice in honor of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others whose names will not be forgotten,’ wrote Zuckerberg. ‘To help in this fight, I know Facebook needs to do more to support equality and safety for the Black community through our platforms.’
The announcement comes after a week in which the Facebook’s policies around violence and hate speech have been harshly criticised. Earlier this week, President Donald Trump tweeted about the demonstrations protesting the death of George Floyd that had broken out across the U.S., writing ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’. Twitter chose to hide the tweet for glorifying violence; however, when Trump posted the same message to Facebook, the company chose not to block it.
Facebook is not the only Silicon Valley company with a controversial history around racial inequities that has chosen this moment to step up and pledge financial support to addressing social injustice. YouTube announced over the weekend a donation of $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity, a nonprofit that works with police departments to address discriminatory behaviour. Uber also pledged a $1 million donation, with CEO Dara Khosrawshahi saying the company ‘stands in solidarity with the Black community and with peaceful protests’. Uber’s funds will go toward the Equal Justice Initiative and the Center for Policing Equity.
Both YouTube and Uber have dealt with controversies over race – in 2018, Uber’s chief people officer resigned due to allegations concerning her handling of an investigation that involved racial discrimination. YouTube meanwhile has faced criticism for allowing racist and extremist content to flourish on their platform.
CEO of Apple Tim Cook also pledged financial support to the Equal Justice Initiative, as well as a number of other groups in a memo to employees sent on Sunday, though the amount was not specified.
It’s not only large tech companies that are offering donations in solidarity with groups working for social justice right now – the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a non-profit for bailing out jailed protesters and which has attracted numerous smaller donations from individuals raised $20 million in four days. Before this week, the Fund had raised around $75,000 in 2020.
Yesterday was the sixth day of nationwide unrest in the United States since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd died after four police officers attempted to detain him for allegedly using a fake $20 bill. In a widely-circulated video, one officer is seen pinning Floyd to the ground and continuing to kneel on his neck while Floyd yells that he can’t breathe. The officer who knelt on Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter on Friday. An active investigation into the other three officers are still ongoing and they may still be charged.