A video that shows an automatic bathroom soap dispenser failing to detect the hand of a dark-skinned man has gone viral and raised questions about racism in technology, as well as the lack of diversity in the industry that creates it.
The now-viral video was uploaded by Chukwuemeka Afigbo, Facebook’s head of platform partnerships in the Middle East and Africa. He tweeted: ‘If you have ever had a problem grasping the importance of diversity in tech and its impact on society, watch this video.’
The video begins with a white man waving his hand under the dispenser and instantly getting soap on his first try.
Then, a darker skinned man waves his hand under the dispenser in various directions for over ten seconds, with soap never being released. It’s unclear if this is Afigbo himself.
To demonstrate that skin color is the reason, he then waves a white paper towel under the dispenser and is instantly granted soap.
The tweet has been shared more than 93,000 time, and the video has more than 1.86 million views.
The tweet also spurred over 1,800 comments, many of which are citing this as just another example of lack of diversity in tech.
This is potentially very important. If you have electronic soap dispensers, and their value is considerable, some staff will be placed at risk if they cannot make these things work!