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Facebook manager exits, says she was 'harassed' for pro-diversity views

Sophie Alpert, a Facebook engineering manager, said in an internal post that she was targeted for calling out the company's lack of diversity, CNBC reports.

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Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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A Facebook engineering manager left the social media giant this month, saying she'd been harassed after criticizing the tech company's lack of diversity, according to a report Thursday.

Sophie Alpert wrote a post on Workplace, Facebook's internal social network, about the reasons for her departure, CNBC reported. In the post, Alpert, who identifies as transgender, pointed a finger at a co-worker's remark on Workplace. She also wrote that she was attacked on Blind, a third-party app that lets employees chat anonymously.

"Facebook is good for many people, but it's not the right place for me right now," Alpert wrote in her Workplace post, according to CNBC. "I want to spend my time at a place willing to push further on diversity and inclusion. One where it's not OK to write on Workplace that white privilege doesn't exist. One where if I call out that our board has too many white men, I don't get harassed by other employees on Blind with transphobic messages saying I should be fired."

Facebook confirmed that Alpert posted internally about why she was leaving the company. 

"Sophie is very aware of how serious we took her concerns, given she spent significant time with members of our human resources team who worked in earnest to address the issues on Blind," said Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison. "Because the comments in question were made anonymously there, we weren't able to find out who posted them." 

Facebook doesn't "tolerate harassment of any kind," Harrison said, and "has clear policies about how people should communicate with and treat each other at Facebook."

Alpert didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Curie Kim, Blind's community manager, said in a statement that the company doesn't condone bullying or harassment and content that goes against their online rules are flagged and removed. Users who get flagged repeatedly are restricted from accessing the app.

"Our mission is to bring transparency to the workplace and this will never change," Kim said. "It's disheartening to read that a small number of users have used a platform designed to empower employees to do just the opposite."

It isn't the first time a Facebook employee has complained about the lack of diversity at the world's largest social network. Mark Luckie, who left his job as Facebook's strategic partner manager for global influencers, accused the company of failing its black employees and users. Luckie shared his note publicly in November. At the time, Facebook said it was doing all it could to be a "truly inclusive company."

Like other technology companies, Facebook has struggled to diversify a workforce that's mainly made up of white and Asian men. In July, Facebook reported that about 4 percent of its US workforce was black and 5 percent was Hispanic. About 8 percent of Facebook's US employees identified as transgender or LGBQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or asexual).

Facebook, which was hit by a series of scandals over data privacy and security last year, has also dealt with a string of executive departures. In December, Facebook dropped from No. 1 for 2018 to No. 7 for 2019 in Glassdoor's list of best places to work. 

First published Jan. 17, 2:42 p.m. PT
Update, Jan. 18, 9:30 a.m. PT: Adds statement from Blind.

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