Racial Turmoil At Meta As Company Favors Foreigners
By Joe Guzzardi
Meta Platforms, until October 2021 known as Facebook, is in turmoil. Infamous for its commitment to employing H-1B workers, and simultaneously undermining qualified U.S. tech workers’ careers, the Silicon Valley titan is finally getting its just rewards.
Sheryl Sandberg, a Facebook fixture for 14 years, and as Chief Operating Officer the No. 2 behind Mark Zuckerberg, will be leaving this fall. Some analysts have been long-critical of Sandberg, net worth $1.6 billion, and have pushed for at least two years for her ousting. Zuckerberg and Sandberg disagreed over Metaverse’s vision.
Since Sandberg’s COO replacement, Julian Oliver, has been named, her departure is unlikely to have further measurable negative effect on Meta. But, Oliver will have to assume the responsibility for pulling Meta out of the steady, deep decline the company is struggling with.
Meta Platform’s key Facebook products have grown old. The number of young people actively using Facebook and Instagram has drifted to TikTok which users see as more compelling. Today, TikTok, dominates the social media industry in screen time, and Amazon has become a leading player in the advertising industry.
Then, to the dismay of its shareholders, the Meta stock price’s plunge in recent weeks has slashed the market cap by about 50 percent to $529 billion from an all-time high, and has cut Zuckerberg’s net worth to about $84 billion. As of June 7, Meta stock has stabilized at $196 per share, 14 percent above its low for the year.
In February, Facebook agreed to pay $90 million to settle a privacy lawsuit which claimed that it impermissibly tracked users after they logged out, and sold their personal information to enrich the company. Along the same lines, in January, the British watchdog group, Financial Conduct Authority, sued Meta for $3.2 billion on behalf of individuals who used Facebook in the UK between 2015 to 2019. The lawsuit claims that Facebook made its users submit personal data in order to access the platform and thereby earned billions of dollars from the tactic, Reuters reported.
For Meta, the bad news keeps piling up. Qualified black applicants have charged Facebook with shutting them out of key positions because they aren’t a “culture fit,” a possible reference to the large number of Chinese and Indian H-1B visa employees on the staff. Multiple reports allege that hiring managers confirmed to black candidates during interviews that they “could do the job” before using the “culture-fit” excuse to reject the candidate.
Facebook pledges to add 30 percent more people of color in leadership positions by 2025, but it has a long way to go. Despite incessantly touting the company’s commitment to diversity, Facebook’s 2020 Diversity Report showed little progress. Blacks and Hispanics in key technical roles increased year-over-year, from 1 percent to 1.7 percent for blacks and from 3 percent to 4.3 percent for Hispanics. Moreover, since last summer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating bias claims against Facebook and has recently upgraded its inquiry into a systemic probe that could lead to broader charges.
Meta not only denies middle-management jobs to blacks and Hispanics. The company prefers cheaper, more subservient foreign-born H-1B workers to U.S. tech graduates, a constant in its hiring practices. Zuckerberg, both directly through his congressional testimony and also through FWD.us, the pro-amnesty group he created, staunchly supports higher immigration.
Last year, the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice settled employment discrimination suits against Facebook. Although the settlement sums were paltry for the tech giant, $4.75 million, a DOL civil penalty payable to the federal government and, from the DOJ, up to $9.5 million due the injured parties, Facebook should assume that the charges against it are a warning to clean up its anti-U.S. tech worker bias.
Meta needs a public relations overhaul. An easy place to begin would be to hire U.S. tech workers. Figuratively, Facebook’s image has taken a bigger hit than its net worth. With more than a half-trillion current net worth, even after the stock market blood bath, Meta Platforms/Facebook can afford to hire skilled U.S. tech workers.