On Thursday, New York Council member Margaret Chin went on Twitter blasting Facebook for an odd notification she received on her Facebook page.
I’m glad that @Facebook recognizes that I have a Chinese name but not every Chinese American elected official runs a Chinese restaurant. 😒It’s #APAHM! Fix your microaggressive algorithm! pic.twitter.com/N72A6rdziY
— Margaret S. Chin (@CM_MargaretChin) May 10, 2018
Chin is a representative of the 1st District of the New York City Council. Although Facebook is correct in labeling her as a Government Official, the fact that they also labeled her as someone who runs a “Chinese Restaurant” was odd for many. Netizens on Twitter immediately voiced their disdain and condemned Facebook.
— Nicole Eigbrett (@nicolewhaat) May 11, 2018
Horrible FB algorithm targeting one of New York’s celebrated pioneering Asian American and women elected officials during Asian American Heritage Month. Surely something can be done @katieharbath
— Aries Dela Cruz 🗽 (@TropiAries) May 11, 2018
OMG!! This is horrible! Facebook needs to respond asap and an apology is required! Not going to tolerate racist algorithms targeting Asians during Asian American Heritage Month!! #AAPI @originalspin @sherylsandberg @finkd
— Chung Seto (@setochungster) May 11, 2018
They need to ensure sufficient controls are in place that this will not happen again
Fixing one person’s problem does nothing
— Kane (@riking27) May 11, 2018
In a separate tweet, Chin reached out to Katie Harbath, a Facebook employee who works with elected officials and politicians. Harbath responded that her office was looking into it.
.@katieharbath do other elected officials with “foreign” names receive the same notification? This sends the wrong message to future leaders of immigrant backgrounds that as long as your name is different, you will never truly belong https://t.co/MUDQpLk36F
— Margaret S. Chin (@CM_MargaretChin) May 11, 2018
Thank you for raising this. We have been looking into this all day and need some more information to help determine what is happening. Could you DM me so we can further look into this?
— Katie Harbath (@katieharbath) May 11, 2018
Today, Chin’s team sent NextShark the following statement regarding the matter.
“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.”
After taking office in 2010, Chin became the first Asian American woman to represent Chinatown on the New York City Council.