The Russian trolls who bought ads critical of Hillary Clinton would’ve been caught if Facebook had hired more black employees, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) told Mark Zuckerberg.
“There’ve been numerous media reports about how more than 3,000 Russian ads were bought on Facebook to incite racial and religious division and chaos in the U.S. during the 2016 election,” Clarke told the Facebook CEO on Wednesday during the second day of his testimony.
“Those ads specifically characterized and weaponized African-American groups like Black Lives Matter in which ads suggested through propaganda or fake news, that they were a rising threat.”
“Do you think that the lack of diversity, culturally competent personnel in your [unintelligible] and throughout your organization in which your company did not detect or disrupt and investigate these claims are a problem in this regard?” she asked.
Zuckerberg agreed more diversity would be good for the company, but pushed back on Clarke’s question, asserting that diversity wasn’t the issue in the case of Russians buying up ads on the platform.
“Congresswoman, I agree that we need to work on diversity,” Zuckerberg responded. “In this specific case, I don’t think that that was the issue because we were frankly slow to identifying the whole Russian misinformation operation, and not just that specific example.”
That answer didn’t satisfy Clarke, who insisted that “culturally competent” employees are needed to prevent unwanted “impacts on civil society.”
“I’m concerned that there are not eyes that are culturally competent looking at these things and being able to see how this would impact on civil society.”
“And we’ve talked about diversity forever with your organization,” she continued. “What can you say today when you look at how all of this operates that you can do immediately to make sure that we have the types of viewing or reviewing that can enable us to catch this in its tracks?”
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