Friday, August 11, 2017

The multi-billion-dollar tech giant Google has cancelled a company-wide town hall meeting scheduled for Thursday out of concerns for its employees’ safety after several were doxxed on a conservative news outlet. The purpose of the meeting had been to discuss a ten-page memo in which one of their software engineers criticized the company’s diversity program and claimed the gender gap was attributable to natural differences between men and women.

Earlier this week, screenshots of Google employees’ internal conversations appeared on Breitbart News, complete with their real names and avatar photos. Some of the posts included talk of blacklisting Googlers who expressed anti-diversity views but others simply discussed the memo. On Twitter account supportive of the memo called for Google employees to publicly identify pro-diversity coworkers and “ruin their lives.” Many of Google’s employees, including its chief diversity and inclusion officer Danielle Brown, have received harassing messages on Twitter.

The alt-right news agency is the most widely read conservative news outlet in the United States, and it has a history of aggression against liberal politicians, organizations and causes. Early in its history, Breitbart posted a heavily edited video making it appear as though Shirley Shirrod of the United States Department of Agriculture was making racist comments. She was fired. The unedited video later showed she had been refuting racist comments. A similar highly edited video about the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now made it appear as though its members were teaching people how to establish brothels.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai cancelled the meeting by company email: “We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward,” he wrote. “But our Dory questions appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally. … Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be ‘outed’ publicly for asking a question.” Dory is Google’s internal messaging system, which had been handling hundreds of questions about harassment within the company and other issues meant to have been addressed at the meeting.

Last week, a Google software engineer named James Damore circulated a memo in which he criticized Google’s diversity programs and claimed the company was closed-minded when it came to conservative ideas. Among other things, he attributed the under-representation of women in Google’s tech jobs to biological differences. He was fired on Monday.

“Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence,” reads the memo, and later on, “I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.” He then goes on to claim there are more men in leadership positions because men are judged based on status.

Since then, there has been a great deal of interest in Damore on sites such as Breitbart News and the subReddit KotakuInAction.

In 2016, Google disclosed that 20% of its tech positions are held by women. The national average for the U.S. is 26%. Google has been accused of underpaying female employees by the U.S. Department of Labor.