Mark Zuckerberg Defenses Peter Thiel Over Donation For Trump's Campaign

By Xyla Joelle L. Fernandez

Oct 20, 2016 06:01 AM EDT

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 Trump

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."

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 Clinton, 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.

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