Coming during Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, offensive alert highlights issues surrounding diversity and cultural competence in tech

NEW YORK – Council Member Margaret S. Chin released the following statement in response to an insensitive alert from Facebook to categorize her official government Facebook page as a “Government Official – Chinese Restaurant”:

“This Facebook notification sends a disappointing message to users of diverse backgrounds that as long as your name sounds ‘foreign’ or ‘different,’ you will never truly belong.

While making this correction presented only a minor inconvenience, I have to wonder how many other Asian Americans and communities of color have felt marginalized, misrepresented or stereotyped – either directly or indirectly – by this technology.

Facebook holds enormous power to connect and educate people from all corners of the world. Instead of pulling us apart by enforcing dangerous biases that marginalize certain groups, Facebook’s technology should be bringing us closer together.

Asian American Pacific Heritage Month presents a special opportunity for us to recognize the struggles that Asian Americans have overcome – and continue to face – in the fight for equality and representation. I hope that Facebook can see this unfortunate alert as an opportunity to fix this problem, and rectify any other systemic gaps that reinforce harmful stereotypes.”

Taking office in 2010, Council Member Chin is the first Asian American woman, and the first Chinese American, to represent Chinatown in the New York City Council.

In 2017, Facebook released a “Diversity Update” in an effort to highlight its latest strides to diversify its workforce, train employees on how to manage unconscious bias and champion internal programs to educate managers on issues impacting marginalized communities. According to the report, Asian employees make up 40% of Facebook’s workforce.