Fired Google Employee Tells Quillette He Fears for Tech’s Future

August 1st, 2019 9:46 AM

The Big Tech company millions of Americans use as their gateway to the internet has proven time and time again that it’s not open to conservative thought. 

Quillette host Jonathan Kay interviewed former Google engineer Mike Wacker on July 4, about his May 2019 firing. Wacker sparked outrage airing his concerns about Google’s far-left monoculture --  an atmosphere, he told Kay, where “the political bias was so blatant and so obvious.” 

In a blog post titled “Google’s Outrage Mobs and Witch Hunts,” Wacker described a tech workplace willing to bully or fire people for their personal beliefs. As he emphasized in the post, “if you can control who belongs at Google, then you can also control what content belongs on Google.”

Googling is Free, Disagreeing Costs your Career

To Kay, Wacker observed a huge change in Big Tech over the last five years, as it adopted the campus outrage culture and the intolerance of the social justice left. Google, whose motto was “Don’t be evil,” once prided itself on openness and free flow of information. Now it cracks down on conservative employees and dissent of any kind.

According to whistleblowers, Google top legal executive Kent Walker last spring sent a company-wide email threatening employees with termination if they access certain documents without permission.

One anonymous employee told BuzzFeed the email “could very easily be read as an attempt to scare anyone who might be a whistleblower or organizer.” The same employee added that organizing in regards to Google’s ethical scandals “would have been much more difficult if these policies had been in place.”

The new socially liberal Big Tech norm has alienated both social conservatives as well as left wing activists concerned about various ethical violations. According to Wired magazine, the majority of Google’s liberal walkout organizers have left the company in protest. One of them, Meredith Whittaker, wrote a letter which criticized Google for its complicity in the coming “use of AI for social control and oppression.”

Kay addressed the 2017 incident which was more or less the powder keg or first high profile incident showing the cultural divide within Big Tech itself. He cited how engineer James Damore was fired by the search engine company for writing a memo that critiqued radical feminist dogma in the workplace. The host described the memo, which “though politically incorrect, was shown to be largely accurate.”

For his part, Google targeted Wacker because he managed an internal email group called “Republicans@Google.” His mailing list had a respectable 270 members, not all of whom were Republicans per se. Many of those subscribed were either merely looking to learn more about how conservatives think, or “political refugees” alienated by increasingly extreme leftist groupthink. 

Wacker mused that, while the tech industry probably never went out of its way to welcome Republicans or libertarians, something has caused a radical shift in corporate culture. “It didn’t seem to be as bad” when he joined Google in May 2014, when his hiring process “was just 5 coding interview questions.” Today, Wacker thinks the interview process has become a way to fish for political and personal views.

Google’s Campus Crazy PC Culture is Here to Stay

Many Google employees were angry last April when Kay Coles James of the conservative Heritage Foundation joined Google’s external AI Advisory Board. Her advocacy for traditional values was, liberal Googlers claimed, a form of “rhetorical violence.” Much like students protesting conservative speakers on college campuses, they claim her opinions will “lead to real violence against people.” To those Googlers, “just by allowing her to be one of eight members, that was somehow invalidating the existence of the LGBT community.”

Wacker said corporate tech culture has clearly become a “victimhood culture,” because of the influx of recent college graduates. “As college campuses have kinda become a little bit of a circus” the insanity “spread to Google which has a very similar culture in many ways.”

Some universities, like Evergreen State College, which suffered massive losses after its PC intolerance controversies, do pay a price for being a circus. But Wacker says most Big Tech companies won’t. “Whether its Google, Facebook, or Twitter, they can make mistakes that are just as bad or even worse than what happened at Evergreen, and the market just won’t correct, there won’t be any sort of market correction for that,” he said.

The market cannot correct a bad actor that is a monopoly. Big Tech companies are currently under Antitrust investigations for behaving like monopolies who more or less control the flow of the vast majority of information, and are accused of anti competitive behavior. Even Google, with all of its resources, failed spectacularly when it introduced Google+ to compete with Facebook. 

Who Will Bring Down this Big Tech Babel?

Is there an antidote? “We kind of actually need to hear more from Republicans and conservatives” Wacker said. “If Google is just this echo chamber internally, then how can it make decisions that are right for all it users not just users who have the same political beliefs as Google employees?”

Conservatives, who are already less likely to go into Big Tech or entertainment, find themselves unwelcome in the career where they are most desperately needed to maintain political balance.

Currently unemployed, Wacker is considering working for a company where he can make widgets. He explained that industries that are more mechanical (as opposed to informational) are by nature less explicitly political.

Interviewer Jon Kay observed that this can exacerbate the Big Tech problem, as he noted, if all the technically minded people with diverse viewpoints go into mechanical industries, “places like Facebook and Google and Twitter will be run by people who have perhaps a more explicit social justice agenda, but those are the websites that guide the overall conversation online”

Wacker felt torn about this reality, “On the one hand I wanna tell people ‘hey, go into these tech companies to provide some viewpoint diversity’” however, in light of his own bad treatment and firing by Google, “another part of me knows that when I ask who could do that I’m asking them to risk their careers.”