- Facebook has denied a media report suggesting it fired former executive Palmer Luckey for his right-wing views.
- The Wall Street Journal said Luckey, the founder of Oculus, was fired after donating $10,000 to a group that posted anti-Hillary Clinton memes and after voicing support for Donald Trump.
- But Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth has strongly denied this, as has a spokeswoman.
- There’s a wider culture war in Silicon Valley, with conservative supporters claiming most tech firms have a liberal bias.
Facebook has denied firing one of its former senior executives, Palmer Luckey, for his conservative views.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Luckey’s departure came after The Daily Beast reported he donated $10,000 to an anti-Hillary Clinton group, and after longtime support of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign in 2016.
According to the Journal, citing leaked emails, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even pressured Luckey to switch his support from Trump to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. As the newspaper tells it, Luckey was put on leave after his donation and then fired in March 2017. He reportedly negotiated a $100 million payout after hiring an employment lawyer to argue Facebook had broken California law.
Luckey believes that he was fired from Facebook due to his political views, the newspaper reported. Trump is largely unpopular in Silicon Valley, where most tech employees support liberal candidates, according to the non-profit Open Secrets.
But Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth, who now oversees the Oculus division, issued a strong statement denying that Luckey had been fired for his political leanings.
He wrote: “Any claims that his departure was do to his conservative beliefs are false.”
When asked whether he thought Luckey himself may have been the source of the Journal’s story, Bosworth wrote: “I honestly have no idea who their sources are, just that what was shared was not the truth and that the information provided appears to have been carefully selected to lead the reporters to one specific, and erroneous, conclusion.”
As we told the WSJ, politics had nothing to do with Palmer’s departure. Any claims that his departure was do to his conservative beliefs are false.
— Boz (@boztank) November 11, 2018
We always made it clear that any mention of politics was up to Palmer. We did not pressure him to say something untrue. Leaked information is inherently one-sided and rarely paints the full picture of what’s going on as it comes from someone with an agenda.
— Boz (@boztank) November 11, 2018
Facebook likewise denied Luckey had been fired for supporting Trump. A spokeswoman told the Journal: “We can say unequivocally that Palmer’s departure was not due to his political views. We’re grateful for Palmer’s contributions to Oculus, and we’re glad he continues to actively support the VR industry.”
And sources speaking to the Journal suggested the fact that Luckey hid his donation to a group which posted memes maligning Hillary Clinton, and his stepping back from Oculus were factors in his departure.
Luckey did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but told the Wall Street Journal: “I believe the team that remains at Oculus is still the best in the VR industry, and I am rooting for them to succeed.”
The Journal’s story comes as conservative figures in California, such as Peter Thiel, argue that tech firms are dominated by liberals at executive and employee level and that different views are stifled. Google’s firing of James Damore, who wrote a controversial memo about the firm’s diversity practices, was seen as a watershed moment. Brian Amerige, a former Facebook engineer, likewise quit the firm and claimed an “intolerant” culture.