Facebook chief explains why Peter Thiel is still on the board

Mark Zuckerberg claims that it's in the name of diversity.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ever since Peter Thiel drove Gawker Media to bankruptcy in a bid to silence unfavorable press, many have been wondering: why is Facebook keeping Thiel on its board of directors when he's antithetical to the company's emphasis on free speech, and is an ardent Trump supporter? Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has finally broken the silence... but it's not going to make everyone happy. In a leaked post (Facebook has since confirmed that it's authentic), Zuckerberg claims that it's all about upholding diversity. You can't just stick up for people you already agree with, he argues -- you have to also protect the rights of people with "different viewpoints."

Zuck adds that it's possible for people like Thiel to support Trump without embracing racism, sexism or other labels attached to the Republican candidate. It would be wrong to give Thiel the boot if he was really just concerned about smaller government, lower taxes or other typical right-wing views, according to the executive.

The argument is nothing new. Social critic Noam Chomsky has long contended that free speech means protecting the right to hold unpopular views, for example. Thiel's stance complicates things, however, and his support for Trump isn't the only reason people have distanced themselves from his venture capitalism. After all, he took down Gawker precisely to restrict freedom of expression, to suppress a view he didn't like. Why is his free speech allowed to override someone else's? Zuck clearly has to walk a fine line in such a politically sensitive climate, but it's hard to ignore the contradiction of claiming to defend free speech while embracing someone bent on destroying it.

Mark Zuckerberg defends keeping Peter Thiel on Facebook's board