John Wacker is a right-leaning Google employee who recently wrote an open letter describing an ideologically insular, intolerant and retaliatory culture within the tech and information behemoth. Writing at Medium, Wacker exposes what he calls "outrage mobs" and "witch hunts," describing concerted and targeted efforts by leftist employees to get the company to freeze out or sever ties with right-leaning events and individuals. He describes the internal and external credibility crises Google faces, concluding that a vocal element of his colleagues are seeking to control who is permitted to work at the company as a means of ultimately controlling the broader public's access to information (emphasis mine):
These outrage mobs and witch hunts don’t just target outsiders like CPAC and [Heritage Foundation president] Kay Coles James. They also target insiders and Google’s own employees. But whether the target is external or internal, the goal of these outrage mobs and witch hunts is the same: to control who belongs at Google. More importantly, if you can control who belongs at Google, then you can also control what content belongs on Google. If the people who work at Google — or who feel psychologically safe expressing their opinions at Google — are only the ones who think that CPAC and Kay Coles Jame are hateful, then don’t be surprised if, one day in the future, hate speech is used as a pretext to censor CPAC or Kay Coles James and remove their content from Google’s platforms.
He goes on to explain how leftists at Google weaponize HR complaints in order to shut down opposing viewpoints, chronicling a number of right-leaning statements or comments that were formally reported, prompting action. This included one employee's defense of author Jordan Peterson's opposition to government enforcement of pronoun-related language, and another's criticism of the Women's March over its anti-Semitism problem and lack of inclusivity toward pro-life women. Meanwhile, Wacker writes, left-wing employees routinely engage in hateful, incendiary and bullying language with impunity (click through for several examples). Google's Human Resources department has "completely abandoned any pretense of enforcing any sort of objective and impartial standard," he warns. Wacker says that as a high-profile Republican at the company, he was a frequent target of HR harassment via frivolous complaints, resulting in formal admonitions, and even an offer of a severance package as an incentive to leave Google. His Medium piece was published on May 21st. Roughly a week later, Wacker appeared on Fox Business Network to share his concerns with a national television audience:
#Google Software engineer @m_wacker SOUNDS OFF on his company’s anti-conservative bias: “These outrage mobs are so hostile. You want to kind of want to push back on them… but if you push back, they can turn on you instead.” #TrishRegan pic.twitter.com/giUYQFAxay— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) May 29, 2019
Last night, the Daily Caller and FBN host Trish Regan reported that Wacker was fired by Google the day after his television appearance (Wacker has not directly tweeted about this, but he has retweeted reports about this apparent development, which suggests that it's true). If his claims are accurate -- and it appears as though he's kept records, and has solicited evidence of abuse an intimidation from other affected employees -- this very much smacks of anti-whistleblower retaliation. And it's the second prominent instance of a right-leaning employee at Google speaking up against enforced groupthink, then promptly losing his job. These firings only appear to confirm the premise of the dismissed parties' allegations about how "justice" is meted out at Google.
Googlers who hold "problematic" viewpoints should keep them under wraps, or face the wrath of the outrage machine. And if they choose to confront the outrage machine, or blow the whistle on its overreach or injustices, they put their livelihoods in jeopardy. That's the message. To outsiders, this is deeply worrisome. Google is an exceptionally powerful entity. If the company's supposed zeal for diversity does not entail protecting conservatives, traditionalists, or people of faith against the capricious whims or malevolent designs of aggressive leftists, identity obsessives or secularists, it is not much of an intellectual leap for consumers -- and yes, regulation-minded politicians -- to harbor serious concerns about Google's commitment to the open flow of information, free from ideologically-motivated bias or censorship. This is not even a hypothetical worry, as Google subsidiary YouTube has been reminding us in real time this week:
In an abrupt reversal amid an ongoing online firestorm, YouTube announced Wednesday that it would block conservative commentator Steven Crowder from making any money on videos he uploaded to the site, following a torrent of outrage from left-wing groups about insulting remarks he made about a gay political personality working at Vox. YouTube, a Google subsidiary, claimed Crowder had engaged in a "continued egregious actions that have harmed the broader community," but acknowledged that Crowder's videos "did not violate our Community Guidelines." The company stopped short of banning Crowder and deleting his videos entirely, as many progressive groups and journalists demanded. Crowder's demonetization, in turn, prompted conservatives to renew charges of large-scale censorship and hypocrisy against the big tech giant. Several right-leaning content creators, as well as nonpartisan journalists documenting hate speech, charged that YouTube was engaged in an broad "purge" Wednesday against their channels, which were not directly related to the Crowder dispute.
In a livestream Wednesday afternoon, Crowder highlighted a series of unpunished hateful comments made by liberal commentators -- including Stephen Colbert's reference to President Trump as "Putin's c--kholster," and Samantha Bee's mockery of Ivanka Trump as a "feckless c--t." The episode began May 30 with a viral Twitter post by left-wing Vox personality Carlos Maza, which contained video montage of derogatory comments Crowder had made about Maza in the past two years. In the various clips, Crowder variously refers to Maza as an "angry little queer," a "gay Mexican," and "Mr. Lispy queer from Vox." Maza, an openly gay partisan activist, has himself previously used aggressive language on social media. "Milkshake them all," he wrote May 21, referring to right-wing activists. "Humiliate them at every turn. Make them dread public organizing."
I'm definitely not a fan of Crowder's slurs, nor do I think anyone should be taking comportment or free speech cues from Maza. But nasty mockery and objectionable language are not against YouTube's policies, which is why the platform initially declined to take any action against Crowder. But after stepped-up agitation from the loud Left, YouTube partially changed its decision out of nowhere, appearing to make up new rules on the fly:
.@YouTube's statement on @scrowder: OK, we admit he didn't violate our standards, but people were mad at us, so we just backfilled a rationale for demonetizing him with Orwellian doublespeak. pic.twitter.com/5c63U77uB6— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 6, 2019
It looks like their stated rationale has explicitly shifted, too, suggesting that they're frantically peddling evolving spin to justify their newly-invented standards (which have, perhaps inadvertently, ensnared other content creators, too). Generally speaking, I believe social media platforms should operate with the lightest possible touch on such matters. Where they do draw lines -- and some lines are certainly appropriate -- they must be enforced equally and consistently. But if the people making decisions about content policing are overwhelmingly cut from the same ideological cloth, blind spots or outright viewpoint discrimination become high-risk propositions. Tech giants that ignore those risks, or tacitly approve of this form of discrimination, turn themselves into juicy targets for regulation and other 'corrective' governmental action. And Big Tech's apparent hostility toward the beliefs and values of roughly half the country means that many of the voices that typically oppose regulatory creep and various federal intrusions may be inclined to either sit this one out, or even cheer along. This is an unhealthy trend, and it may not end well for anyone involved. Beware.