That’s not a typo. We’re referring to Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey and bear with us…
Silicon Valley is often referred to as a monoculture, and it’s something of a misnomer, as lately especially, it’s gone well beyond that. True, it’s basically a one-industry town, but in order to work in that industry, you also need to be of a certain mindset – and political bent. Of course, all are entitled to their opinions, and all well and good, even in Silicon Valley – as long as you move along lockstep with the accepted opinions.
Republican and staunch supporter of a certain candidate for President Peter Thiel comes to mind who, as a gay man, an immigrant and an extremely successful serial entrepreneur and investor, was practically a poster child for success/diversity/acceptance in Silicon Valley – until he expressed his political views and turned out to be – gasp – supporting a supposed homophobic xenophobe for President, who invited him to speak at the party’s convention – and Thiel accepted! Oh, wait, isn’t Thiel both homosexual and foreign-born? Never mind. Not all things have to track. Let’s stay on point here.
Silicon Valley quickly expressed its intolerance in no uncertain terms. 2 (seemingly so-called) Diversity Organizations Cut Ties With Y Combinator Over Connection With Thiel, and Elaine Pao, who very famously sued her one-time employer, Kleiner Perkins, over gender discrimination, wasted no time in condemning Thiel in a Medium post. “Donating $1.25 million is a lot more than speech. Money is power,” Pao notes, and if that’s true, it should also be noted that Facebook Co-Founder (Has Donated) $20 million to Clinton Campaign. We know that Dustin Moskovitz is no longer with Facebook, but instead “went on launch Asana with prominent libertarian and Donald Trump-supporting Peter Thiel.”
A strange and tangled web, indeed.
The real question is, is Pao hurting Thiel – or her own startups? As Fast Company points out Why It’s Almost Impossible To Boycott Peter Thiel, and drat that, eh? Same with Palmer Luckey, who donated a comparatively piddling $10k in support of a Silicon Valley non-approved candidate for President. The result, as The Federalist reports in Palmer Luckey Again Illustrates Silicon Valley’s New Culture of Conformity: “Several game developers are vowing to end their development of virtual reality games for Oculus unless Facebook accedes to their demands and fires Luckey. In one respect, this is petty grandstanding. A couple of game developers refusing to support Oculus is more likely to hurt them than it is to hurt Facebook. It’s certainly not going to do much harm to Luckey, who has already cashed in on nearly a billion dollars of Facebook money.”
We’re neither attacking nor defending either candidate or anyone’s personal preferences: just the hypocrisy of Silicon Valley, which is all about inclusion – as long as you shop at the company store.
We anxiously await Pao’s Medium post condemning Facebook, which we’re convinced is imminent, given the fact that Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race, writes Julie Angwin in ProPublica. (Facebook’s system allows advertisers to exclude black, Hispanic, and other “ethnic affinities” from seeing ads.) “The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment… When we showed Facebook’s racial exclusion options to a prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman, he gasped and said, “This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”
“The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin,” the article points out. “Violators can face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
For the record, “Facebook began offering the “Ethnic Affinity” categories… as part of a “multicultural advertising” effort.”
Nor are these two seemingly unrelated topics apples and oranges, especially in light of the fact that Facebook now wants to help you decide who gets your vote. “Facebook wants you to know it’s not presenting anything biased. It’s pulling info from candidate pages and the Center for Technology and Civic Life, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization hoping to “increase civic participation.” So there you go.” Or so they say, but we find it difficult to equate Facebook with altruism and as we know, Facebook has been called out numerous times for its censorship of conservative publications and opinions. Back in June, Quartz was already reporting on Five subtle ways Facebook could influence the US presidential election this fall. Says Quartz, “We don’t think of Facebook as a search engine, but it does have a search bar at the top of the page. Although people mainly use it to find other Facebook members, recently Facebook’s news feed has included a Facebook-sponsored video encouraging users to search for “Election 2016” in the search bar. When you do so, the news feed populates with election-related material, the order of which is entirely under Facebook’s control (see above). This is creepy.”
Then do the research, and you’ll find that the Center for Technology and Civic Life is funded by The Democracy Fund, which was founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who donated $100,000 in support of a superPac that came out strongly against a certain non Silicon Valley-approved Presidential candidate. He also donated to number of other candidates who are members of a Silicon Valley-approved political party, but as always, nothing to see here and none of which was not reported in regards to the new Facebook voter initiative.
Speaking of lockstep, Peter Thiel addressed the National Press Club yesterday and there’s this from the speech, courtesy of USAToday: “Thiel, who also spoke in support of Trump at July’s Republican National Convention, said he was surprised by the level of outrage. He specifically called out a leading LGBT magazine, The Advocate, for running an op-ed that questioned whether Thiel, a prominent gay conservative, could still be considered gay for backing Trump. “The lie behind the buzzword of diversity could not be made more clear,” Thiel said Monday. “If you don’t conform, then you don’t count as diverse, no matter what your personal background.””
It seems Silicon Valley has gone beyond a culture of Kool Aid drinkers, to the point where they’re trying to force it down everyone else’s throats as well, with the media in collusion, if only by omission. With all due respect to the members of the Fifth Estate whom we count among our readers, we’ll dismiss this as being that perhaps this current batch of Kool Aid was laced with something or other, and in not too long a time, we’ll get lucky again and enjoy a true working press, rather than what we have been experiencing lately. Namely, just so much prestidigitation. Onward and forward.