Google Memo: LGBT Googlers Cannot Protest During SF Pride March

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San Francisco Bay and Bridge, as seen from Pacific Street, downtown. / Image via InspiredVisionStudios.

As Megan Farokhmanesh first reported at The Verge on June 24, Google apparently has forbidden Googlers from protesting the company’s LGBT policies during San Francisco’s Pride March, scheduled for this coming weekend.

A leaked internal memo to Google staff obtained by Farokhmanesh states that “anyone who chooses to walk the parade as a representative of Google and voice any protest will be considered in violation of Google’s code of conduct.” While the memo did not apply to Googlers marching or otherwise participating in Pride festivities beyond the company’s official contingent, the policy seems meant to thwart pre-planned protests by some employees.

Google’s Rocky Pride Month

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has been embroiled in a high-profile scandal involving the company’s handling of abuse directed at Vox’s Carlos Maza, an openly gay contributor to the news site and a prolific YouTuber in his own right. Vox charitably described YouTube’s approach to Maza’s abuse as “inconsistent,” first ignoring complaints against far-right host Steven Crowder and then, after intensified scrutiny, finally demonetizing his account for violating YouTube’s terms of service. 

Vox’s Emily Stewart underscored how Crowder’s targeted harassment and abuse of Maza hardly was a sudden development. Rather, the abuse stretched back years, reflecting a much broader content-monitoring problem at the company: 

YouTube has for years faced questions about its content moderation practices and how it decides what sort of speech is and isn’t allowed on its platform. What’s more, YouTube seemingly profits from its algorithms funneling users toward extreme and inflammatory content.

As Maza himself pointed out on Twitter following reports of Google’s ban on employee protests, the company simultaneously “continues trotting out its LGBT creators to dance in front of advertisers” amid Pride. 

 

 

 

 

Memo Seen as “Frustrating,” at Odds with Free Expression, Inclusive Ideals

Farokhmanesh also highlights both a sense of frustration among LGBT Googlers and a seeming inconsistency of Google’s Pride memo. One LGBT Googler explained to The Verge that it is “ironic at best, but hypocritical … specifically ironic trying to curb our speech on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall march riots.” 

Google and YouTube have not responded to reports of the leaked memo so far, but June has been a long month for many companies. (To take one example, Popular Information‘s Judd Legum recently published a widely-shared list of companies which, despite emblazoning their web pages and corporate logos with rainbow flags, have donated millions each to America’s most notorious anti-gay politicians. Google was not among those cited by Legum, but big-name companies like AT&T and Verizon were high up the list.) 

For Googlers, Farokhmanesh concludes, there are just a few days to decide how S.F. Pride will play out. As one put it frankly, “you either protest or you march.” 

(source: The Verge)

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