Zuckerberg on Thiel's Trump support: We 'will be stronger for all our differences'

Zuckerberg on Thiel's Trump support: We 'will be stronger for all our differences'
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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg commented for the first time this week on board member Peter Thiel’s controversial $1.25 million donation in support of Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE.

He said in an internal post that he wanted to “quickly address the questions and concerns about Peter Thiel as a board member and a Trump supporter.”

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In the post, he indicated in broad strokes that the company was not interested in cutting ties with people over their support for Trump.

“We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate,” he said.

“There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault,” he said. “It may be because they believe strongly in smaller government, a different tax policy, health care system, religious issues, gun rights or any other issue where he disagreed with Hillary.”

A picture of the post initially appeared on the aggregator Hacker News on Tuesday. It was confirmed as authentic by Facebook on Wednesday. It was published after Thiel’s donation was announced.

“I know there are strong views on the election this year both in the US and around the world. We see them play out on Facebook every day," Zuckerberg continued. "Our community will be stronger for all our differences — not only in areas like race and gender, but also in areas like political ideology and religion." 

Thiel has long supported Trump’s candidacy and spoke at this summer’s Republican National Convention.

The donation, however, was his first in support of the bombastic New York real estate developer. It came after the GOP nominee was accused by multiple women of committing sexual assault.

It has drawn criticism from many in Silicon Valley who say companies and organizations should cut their ties to Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and Palantir and sits on the board of several companies in addition to Facebook.

But those organizations, like Zuckerberg, have been reticent to end their relationships with Thiel as a result of his donation. Sam Altman, the president of startup incubator Y Combinator, said earlier this week that though he supports Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign DNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery MORE, he wouldn’t fire Thiel from his position as a part-time adviser to the companies in the accelerator’s program.

Project Include, a diversity-in-tech initiative, cut its ties with Y Combinator as a result.

Facebook is in a particularly delicate position when it comes to politics and has fought aggressively to be seen as a neutral platform for content of all political stripes. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg met with prominent conservatives over allegations that curators for the company’s “trending” feature had downplayed news stories and sources popular with conservatives. He has not endorsed a candidate in the presidential race and has given to politicians from both parties in the past.