Mark Zuckerberg defends Peter Thiel and ‘ideological diversity’ again

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has again defended having Peter Thiel on the company’s board, saying calls to kick the social network’s first big investor off the board are “crazy.”

Speaking at North Carolina A&T State University on Monday, Zuckerberg said, “I think the folks who are saying we shouldn’t have someone on our board because they’re a Republican, I think that’s crazy.”

The talk was broadcast live on Facebook.

Thiel’s ties to President Trump have been controversial because the president’s views and policies — including on immigration, race and gender — are controversial. Zuckerberg has defended Thiel before, and on Monday he brought Thiel up without being asked specifically about him. (The question, from a college student there, was: “What do you personally due to ensure that your company maintains a free and safe environment for the expression of all thoughts and feelings?”)

Ellen Pao, a noted critic of Thiel and Trump, on Tuesday called attention to a tweetstorm from Silicon Valley web developer Marco Rogers, who called “bulls—” on Zuckerberg’s defense of Thiel in the name of “ideological diversity.”

What’s Rogers’ problem with Thiel? Well, Thiel, a longtime libertarian, once wrote that women’s suffrage was bad for democracy. He also co-wrote a book with another tech executive, David Sacks (formerly of Yammer and Zenefits), in which they characterized date rape as “belated regret.” Last year, amid renewed interest in the book because of Thiel’s support for Trump, they apologized for their comments in the book. In “The Diversity Myth,” Thiel and Sacks slammed multiculturalism, diversity, gender studies and political correctness.

If that sounds familiar, they are the same themes that are decried by Trump and his supporters.

Back to “crazy,” which is also how Zuckerberg referred to the idea first floated around last year after the presidential election that fake news might have influenced the outcome. But not too long afterward, Facebook began to take action to try to minimize fake news on its platform.


Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook, right, and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, center, listen as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 14, 2016. (Evan Vucci/AP)



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