The Trump adviser sits on Facebook's board of directors....
Mark Zuckerberg has defended Facebook continuing to have billionaire Peter Thiel sit on its board of directors, despite calls for him to be removed due to his ties to US President Donald Trump.
Thiel, who was an early Facebook investor and also co-founded PayPal, has been one of the tech sector's most high profile Trump supporters and is now one of the new administration's key advisers.
Speaking during a Q&A with students at North Carolina A&T State University on Monday, Zuckerberg rejected calls for Thiel to step down as "crazy" and defended Thiel in response to a question about how Facebook can maintain "a free and safe environment for the expression of all thoughts and feelings."
"We have a board member who is an adviser to the Trump administration, Peter Thiel. And I personally believe that if you want to have a company that is committed to diversity, you need to be committed to all kinds of diversity, including ideological diversity.
"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.
"I think you need to have all kinds of diversity if you want to make progress together as a society."
PayPal founder Peter Thiel, right, listens as then President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a December 2016 meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York. Picture by: Evan Vucci/AP/Press Association Images
According to Business Insider, the North Carolina trip was part of Zuckerberg's goal to visit every single US state by the end of the year.
The Facebook CEO previously addressed Thiel's support for Trump in an internal company memo in October.
He wrote at the time:
"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.
"There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault.
"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 disagrees with Hillary."
Thiel raised Silicon Valley's ire when he donated $1.25 million to Trump's campaign last year. He also addressed the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July, saying in a pro-Trump speech:
"Instead of going to Mars, we invaded the Middle East... It's time to end the era of stupid wars and rebuild our country. When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union, and we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?"
Facebook made a concerted effort to distance itself from Thiel's comments, stating:
"Peter Thiel is attending and speaking at the RNC in his personal capacity. He is not attending on behalf of Facebook or to represent our views."
Startup incubator Y Combinator, of which Thiel is a part-time partner, also defended its association with him, with its president Sam Altman taking to Twitter to state that, while he disagreed with Thiel's politics, he would not fire someone for supporting the Republican nominee...
3) Thiel is a high profile supporter of Trump. I disagree with this. YC is not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee.— Sam Altman (@sama) October 17, 2016
3.5) That's a dangerous path to start down.— Sam Altman (@sama) October 17, 2016
7) Also, PG and I have contibutred more this election cycle than Peter has (as far as we know).— Sam Altman (@sama) October 17, 2016