Silicon Valley is battling a new report of anti-conservative culture, fanning the flames of an already-intensifying debate.
report by the Wall Street Journal on the 2017 firing of Facebook executive Palmer Luckey claims the Oculus co-founder was forced out for factors relating to his political leanings and online support for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook and its executives have repeatedly said Luckey’s firing was not the result of his political views. CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified as much before Congress in April, and vice president of AR/VR at Facebook, Andrew Bosworth, said on Twitter late Sunday, “Any claims that his departure was do to his conservative beliefs are false.”
A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC Monday, “We can say unequivocally that Palmer’s departure was not due to his political views.”
The conflicting reports could add to existing concerns of anti-conservative bias among tech companies. In recent months, Facebook, Google and Twitter have all faced intensifying claims of online censorship and an environment that’s not welcoming to right-leaning employees.
The Wall Street Journal report claims Luckey’s activity on a polarizing, and often extreme, right-leaning Reddit channel caused an uproar among Facebook employees. It also says the company pressured Luckey to write in an internal email that he supported libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, instead of Donald Trump.
“We always made it clear that any mention of politics was up to Palmer and we did not pressure him to say something that wasn’t factual or true,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC.
Facebook executives have said they’re limited in what they can say about Luckey’s departure, since it deals with confidential personnel matters. Luckey, who received a $ 100 million payout, according to the Journal, told CNBC last month it wasn’t his choice to leave Facebook.
—CNBC’s Julia Boorstin contributed to this report.