At today's hearing before the Committee of the Chamber of Energy and Commerce, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) decided to take the opportunity to put pressure on Mark Zuckerberg on the issue of racial diversity in Silicon Valley.
After reprimanding him for the Cambridge Analytica data leak, he changed the subject. "I want to go in a different direction today," he said, with a sudden change of tone. "You and your team know what I feel about racial diversity in American companies, and Sheryl Sandberg and I talk about that all the time."
Butterfield said that although Facebook had "increased the black representation of 2 to 3 percent" in the last year, "This does not meet the definition of building a racially diverse community."
Butterfield waved a hard copy of Facebook's leadership as shown on his own website, "not you and Sheryl [Sandberg] but David [Wehner] Mike [Schroepfer] Chris [Cox]," all of whom are white.
Zuckerberg replied that it was a problem in which Facebook was "focused".
Butterfield asked Zuckerberg to convene a meeting of CEOs to "develop a strategy to increase racial diversity in the technology industry" and to provide transparency in retention numbers. Zuckerberg told Butterfield in both cases that he would follow him.
It was not clear during Butterfield's questioning why corporate diversity had any connection with an audience entitled "Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data". Previously, lawmakers questioned Zuckerberg about Facebook's handling of data regarding race, both Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) yesterday and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) mentioned ProPublica 2016 research that showed that Facebook allowed Advertisers aim for race, and Facebook's role to allow vigilance for activists. Although none of these issues, or if they could have been prevented through greater diversity within Facebook, were mentioned by Butterfield, a few minutes later, Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY) established a connection.
Clarke pointed out how Russian misinformation had tried to fuel "racial and religious division and chaos" and asked Zuckerberg if the lack of diversity in his own C-suite had made it possible. Zuckerberg acknowledged once again that lack of diversity was a problem, but said that "in this case" was not a factor, because "we were slow to identify the whole situation of erroneous information from Russia" in general.
There have been media reports about how more than 3,000 Russian ads were purchased on Facebook to encourage racial and religious division and chaos in the US. UU During the 2016 elections. Yvette D. Clarke (@RepYvetteClarke) April 11, 2018
Update April 11, 10:06 a.m. PT: this article has been updated with quotes from Representative Yvette Clarke.