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Facebook commits $200 million to support black-owned businesses

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Facebook commits $200 million to support black-owned businesses

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook will spend $200 million to support black-owned businesses and organizations in the US, COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a blog post. It is one of several Facebook initiatives announced today to support black communities.

The company also will add a section to the Facebook app that features stories from black people, fundraisers for causes fighting racial injustice, and educational resources, Sandberg said.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg had already said on May 31st that Facebook would commit $10 million to “groups working on racial justice,” though noted that the company was working with advisors and employees to figure out how to best distribute the money.

The platform has come under scrutiny for enabling discrimination in the past. For example, a 2016 ProPublica investigation found that Facebook advertisers could choose to exclude people of a certain race from seeing ads. That tool, if used with housing ads, could violate the Fair Housing Act, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Facebook for that violation in March 2019. White supremacists have also flourished on the platform, despite Facebook’s announced ban on them.

The $200 million slated for black-owned businesses will be split into two main buckets. Half will be invested in black-owned small businesses, black creators, and nonprofits working with black communities, Sandberg said in her blog post. Of that $100 million, $25 million will go to black content creators, while $75 million will be “grants of cash and ad credits” to support the small businesses and nonprofits.

The other $100 million will go to black-owned suppliers, “from facilities to construction to marketing agencies and more,” according to Sandberg. The company is also committing to spend $100 million with black-owned suppliers every year. In addition, the company is making a goal to spend at least $1 billion with “diverse suppliers” annually starting next year, Sandberg said.

In honor of Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned they were free, Facebook will donate $5 million to more than 250,000 fundraisers on Facebook supporting the Equal Justice Initiative, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Innocence Project.

The new section of the Facebook app, called “Lift Black Voices,” will “highlight stories from black people, share educational resources, and inspire people to take action through fundraising for racial justice causes,” Sandberg says. The company also plans to surface accounts in Instagram search to “help people take action for racial justice,” though Sandberg’s post didn’t elaborate further on what that meant.

 Image: Facebook

In addition, Facebook plans to increase diversity in its leadership ranks over the next five years by adding 30 percent more people of color, including 30 percent more Black people, Sandberg said. The company also committed to double the number of black and Latinx staff by the end of 2023. Facebook had previously announced a goal to have 50 percent of its workforce made up of “underrepresented communities” by that same date.

Other tech giants have also announced nine-digit financial commitments toward racial equity. Google committed $175 million to support black-owned businesses, black entrepreneurs, and more last week. And Apple launched the $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative last week which, among other things, includes increasing spending with black-owned supply chain partners.

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