Thursday, August 10, 2017

Censorship is for Losers...,


NYTimes |  Silicon Valley’s politics have long skewed left, with a free-market’s philosophy and a dash of libertarianism. But that goes only so far, with recent episodes putting the tech industry under the microscope for how it penalizes people for expressing dissenting opinions. Mr. Damore’s firing has now plunged the nation’s technology capital into some of the same debates that have engulfed the rest of the country.

Such fractures have been building in Silicon Valley for some time, reaching even into its highest echelons. The tensions became evident last year with the rise of Donald J. Trump, when a handful of people from the industry who publicly supported the then-presidential candidate faced blowback for their political decisions.

At Facebook, Peter Thiel, an investor and member of the social network’s board of directors, was told he would receive a negative evaluation of his board performance for supporting Mr. Trump by a peer, Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix. And Palmer Luckey, a founder of Oculus VR, a virtual reality start-up owned by Facebook, was pressured to leave the company after it was revealed that he had secretly funded a pro-Trump organization.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said on Twitter that “censorship is for losers” and offered to hire Mr. Damore. Steven Pinker, a Harvard University cognitive scientist, said on Twitter that Google’s actions could increase support for Mr. Trump in the tech industry.

“Google drives a big sector of tech into the arms of Trump: fires employee who wrote memo about women in tech jobs,” Dr. Pinker wrote.

One of the most outspoken supporters of Mr. Trump in Silicon Valley has been Mr. Thiel, a founder of PayPal, who has since faced derision from other people working in tech for his political stance. In a sign of how deep that ill feeling runs, Netflix’s Mr. Hastings warned Mr. Thiel last August, a few weeks after Mr. Trump had accepted the Republican nomination for president, that he would face consequences for backing Mr. Trump.

Mr. Thiel, also one of the original investors in Facebook, had given a prime-time speech supporting Mr. Trump at the Republican convention. In contrast, Mr. Hastings, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, said earlier last year that Mr. Trump, if elected, “would destroy much of what is great about America.”

Mr. Hastings, the chairman of a committee that evaluates Facebook’s board members, told Mr. Thiel in an email dated Aug. 14 that the advocacy would reflect badly on Mr. Thiel during a review of Facebook directors scheduled for the next day.

“I see our board being about great judgment, particularly in unlikely disaster where we have to pick new leaders,” Mr. Hastings wrote in the email to Mr. Thiel, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. "I’m so mystified by your endorsement of Trump for our President, that for me it moves from ‘different judgment’ to ‘bad judgment.’ Some diversity in views is healthy, but catastrophically bad judgment (in my view) is not what anyone wants in a fellow board member.”
Mr. Thiel and Mr. Hastings declined to comment through their spokesmen; neither challenged the authenticity of the email. Both of the men remain on Facebook’s board.

Another prominent Trump supporter affiliated with Facebook, Mr. Luckey, did not last at the company.