The tech world is aghast at the recent so-called “anti-diversity manifesto” penned by senior Google engineer James Damore. The employee initially put his report – which wasn’t anti-diversity at all – on an internal list, but it quickly went public. Vice’s Motherboard received several copies of it via their secure drop, and a handful of Google employees tweeted about the document. Damore lost his job over the report, which seems to validate his concerns; namely, that Google has fostered an environment where “freedom from offense” means the silencing of particular viewpoints. The engineer lists several subsequent points:
- [The] silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
- The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
- Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
- Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
- Difference in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership.
- Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.
While Damore’s document is well-sourced with cited supporting material, the internet has largely ostracized him for writing it. Regardless of whether one agrees with his premises and conclusions, however, the fact remains that an employee of one of the biggest marketing and surveillance companies in the world just got fired for what he thinks and believes. Which, by the way, effectively proves his entire point.
Even more disturbing than the reaction to the document itself, however, is the manifestation – and simultaneous ignoring – of the greater problem that Google itself is proving correct. Not only do they fire people for speaking up about things they believe are wrong, but those employees who wish to discuss it in any terms other than vehement condemnation must do so outside of the Google universe for fear of recrimination.
For those employees to dodge the ever-present Google tracking and watching, that means NOT using any of the following products:
- Google Plus
- Anything on the internet while signed into their Google account
And that’s only a partial list.
Instead of enjoying open, honest, and free discussion on a pertinent issue, employees have to use secure drops, VPNs, IP cloaking, and alternate methods of communication – just to get the full story out to the public. If caught, they risk losing their own jobs as well thanks to Google’s “notoriously strict” non-disclosure agreement. Land of the free? Hardly.
Interestingly enough, Google’s Vice President of Diversity, Integrity, and Governance – a tyrannical and dystopian-sounding title if there ever was one – told VICE that “part of Google’s plans for building an open environment involve ‘including different political views.” That means, of course, that there is not such an environment now – which is precisely the issue Damore tried to raise.
For those of you who are tired of Google’s surveillance and treatment of its employees, there are plenty of ways to disentangle yourself from the search giant’s tentacles – starting with ditching Chrome. Have a look at Alternative To. Contrary to what Google might tell you, there are plenty of ways to avoid using products by companies that spy on you and suppress free speech.