'Racist' soap dispenser called out by Facebook employee

Facebook employee claims soap dispenser is 'racist' after it fails to work for black hands.Twitter / Chukwuemeka Afigbo

A Facebook employee in Nigeria has caused debate online after he posted a video of a soap dispenser he claims is racist, after it appears to not work for people with dark skin tones.

The clip was tweeted out by Chukwuemeka Afigbo and soon went viral after it showed the automatic soap machine dispensing as normal when a white man puts his hands under the sensor but when a man with dark skin tried it failed to work. Someone in the background can be heard laughing and saying "too black!"

He then held a white piece of paper in the same hands and the soap dispenser worked as normal to prove it wasn't out of soap or a one-off error.

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Afigbo wrote on his tweet: "If you have ever had a problem grasping the importance of diversity in tech and its impact on society, watch this video".

The post (below) has seen over 131,000 retweets, 177,000 likes and thousands of comments sparking a fierce debate as many users either slam the dispenser as a sign of the lack of diversity in tech or criticise Afigbo, claiming that it has nothing to do with race and could simply be technical issue with the machine.

The soap dispenser operates using infrared sensors and have been known to fail to detect darker skin as it can absorb more light and is therefore unable to pick up the reflection of light, which it needs to activate the dispense mechanism.

Afigbo added in his post that "having a dark skinned person on the team would have resulted in a better product," however his claims cannot be verified that the manufacturer of the product did not, yet it did not prevent Twitter users from sharing his view.

The soap dispenser is not the first piece of tech outed for not working with all races as it's been known that some heart rate monitors, which also use infrared light to measure a user's vital signs, have been reportedly glitchy on those with dark skin. Xiaomi's Mi Band 2 was one product identified to suffer from the problem.

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