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What some Influencial tech companies had to say about George Floyd!

In the days since the death of George Floyd, technology’s biggest companies and their leaders have made public statements expressing solidarity with Black communities. The communications — which, really, are press releases — condemn racism and call for unity. Some at least name George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Some have said “Black Lives Matter” outright.

More meaningfully, many companies have committed donations to causes fighting racial injustice in the millions of dollars.

So some of the wealthiest businesses in the world are showing up in a moment when the national attention has turned to racial injustice. But surely, they must have shown up before? It hasn’t even been six years since the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown spurred the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Many of those companies’ CEOs found time to publicly participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS, so surely they spared a moment to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter in 2014, right?

Let’s compare the corporate response today with what was said six years ago. We researched responses to the events of 2014 through online searches, checking company newsrooms, and sweeping social media accounts:

AMAZON
2020
“We believe Black lives matter,” reads a blog post published on June 3rd. Amazon committed to donating “a total of $10 million to organizations that are working to bring about social justice and improve the lives of Black and African Americans.” Amazon’s Black Employee Network will also be given a grant to “fund local organizations that support education and racial equality initiatives in communities across the country where our employees live and work.”

APPLE
2020
Apple CEO Tim Cook published an open letter, “Speaking up on racism,” on Apple’s website on June 4th. In the letter, Cook made a number of commitments:

We commit to continuing our work to bring critical resources and technology to underserved school systems. We commit to continuing to fight the forces of environmental injustice — like climate change — which disproportionately harm Black communities and other communities of color. We commit to looking inward and pushing progress forward on inclusion and diversity, so that every great idea can be heard. And we’re donating to organizations including the Equal Justice Initiative, which challenge racial injustice and mass incarceration.

Cook shared a similar version of this letter to Apple employees on May 31st, where he committed Apple to matching all employee donations made for the month of June.

FACEBOOK
2020
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg committed to giving “additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice” in a Facebook post on May 31st. He also noted that his philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, has invested $40 million annually for “several years” to organizations fighting racial injustice.

The pain of the last week reminds us how far our country has to go to give every person the freedom to live with dignity…Hours after this article was first published, Zuckerberg pledged his support to the Black Lives Matter movement as part of a note published to his personal Facebook page. “To members of our Black community: I stand with you. Your lives matter. Black lives matter,” he said.

2014
In a December town hall Q&A, Zuckerberg was asked about social media’s role in helping strengthen communities in the wake of Ferguson and other protests against the use of excessive police force. He shared his response publicly in a video. “I believe we do two things: give everyone a voice and provide greater diversity of perspectives,” Zuckerberg said in his post accompanying the video.

As the debate continues about Ferguson and the tragic death of Eric Garner, I’m often asked what role social media plays in strengthening communities. I believe we do two things: give everyone a voice and provide greater diversity of perspectives. This was a top question at our recent Townhall Q&A, and you can see my answer in the video below. Giving everyone a voice is relatively new in the world. Only in the past 10 years has the internet enabled billions of people to widely share their views and experiences. I believe that giving everyone this power is fundamental to creating more worldwide understanding. A greater diversity of perspectives is also important for creating understanding. Before the internet, we might have only gotten our news from a few TV stations or newspapers. Now we get updates from many more people and sources. If you’re interested in understanding how diversity of ideas works in social networks, check out this paper that explains mathematically why you see more diverse information through social media.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
We could not find other public responses from Facebook regarding the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown or the Ferguson protests.

GOOGLE
2020
Google CEO Sundar Pichai published an email sent to Google employees on June 3rd, titled “Standing with the Black community,” where he made the following “initial” commitments:

We’ll be giving $12 million in funding to organizations working to address racial inequities. Our first grants of $1 million each will go to our long-term partners at the Center for Policing Equity and the Equal Justice Initiative. And we’ll be providing technical support through our Google.org Fellows program. This builds on the $32 million we have donated to racial justice over the past five years. We’ll also offer $25 million in Ad Grants to help organizations fighting racial injustice provide critical information.

As a result of last week’s internal giving campaign, I‘m pleased to share that you all have contributed an additional $2.5 million in donations that we’re matching. This represents the largest Google giving campaign in our company’s history, with both the largest amount raised by employees and the broadest participation.

“We’ll work closely with our Black community to develop initiatives and product ideas that support long-term solutions—and we’ll keep you updated,” Pichai added. “As part of this effort, we welcome your ideas on how to use our products and technology to improve access and opportunity.”

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38 Comments

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