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A sign outside Facebook's California headquarters. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

A former employee at Facebook said in a memo posted online Tuesday that the company has widely failed to support its black workers and users.

The big picture: Civil rights advocates have pushed Facebook to do a better job of policing harassment, and earlier this year the company agreed to do a civil rights audit of its platform.

What he's saying:

  • Mark Luckie, who was strategic partner manager for global influencers at Facebook, said in a memo earlier this month — which he posted online on Tuesday — that black users "are finding that their attempts to create 'safe spaces' on Facebook for conversation among themselves are being derailed by the platform itself."
  • Luckie said that "disenfranchisement of black people on the platform mirrors the marginalization of its black employees."

Luckie said that black employees had been called "'hostile' or 'aggressive'" for sharing opinions in a similar manner as colleagues who are not black.

  • "Racial discrimination at Facebook is real," he said.
  • He said that multiple times a day at Facebook's headquarters, another employee would "look directly at me and tap or hold their wallet or shove their hands down their pocket to clutch it tightly until I pass."
  • "To feel like an oddity at your own place of employment because of the color of your skin while passing posters reminding you to be your authentic self feels in itself inauthentic," he said.

Facebook's response: “The growth in representation of people from more diverse groups, working in many different functions across the company, is a key driver of our ability to succeed," said Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison in a statement. “We want to fully support all employees when there are issues reported and when there may be micro-behaviors that add up.”

Only 3.5% of total U.S. employees at Facebook are black, according to the company's most recent diversity report.

  • The company said this summer that the percentage of black employees had increased in recent years but that the "percentage of Black employees in technical roles remained flat, as did the percentage of Black employees in leadership roles."

What's next? Earlier on Tuesday, the civil rights group Color of Change said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg had agreed to meet with them this week after reports that the firm used opposition research in an attempt to discredit its critics, including Color of Change.

The group says it wants Facebook to:

  • fire its Republican global policy executive, Joel Kaplan;
  • release its opposition research on the group, along with data on attempts to suppress the vote;
  • and agree to a timeframe in which it will release the civil rights audit.

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Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies.

The state of play: Biden also raised arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to a White House readout. The statement said Biden and Putin agreed maintain "consistent communication," and that Biden stressed the U.S. would "act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies."

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

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