Google CEO Sundar Pichai has canceled a town hall meeting scheduled Thursday, Aug. 10. The all-hands meeting, in which everyone is expected to show up, was called in light of a memo that caused a media firestorm over the past few days.
The decision to drop the event was made after several employees voiced their concerns over personal safety — ones who have received various forms of online harassment after openly criticizing the controversial memo. Some of them have had their names and profiles published by alt-right groups.
Google Cancels Town Hall Meeting Over Safety Concerns
"Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be 'outed' publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall," wrote Pichai.
Had the meeting followed through, Pichai would have addressed 60,000 employees and discussed James Damore's internal post that went viral. In a nutshell, that 10-page essay panned Google's diversity efforts and argued that a gender gap exists in tech because of certain biological differences between men and women. He argued women are more "neurotic," and men have a higher drive for status.
Google Anti-Diversity Memo: The Aftermath
The whole situation unfolded rapidly. The manifesto went public; think pieces started to appear; Danielle Brown, Google's new VP of diversity, integrity, and governance, responded; and shortly thereafter, Damore was dismissed. Since Damore's firing on Monday, Aug. 7, various corners of the internet have begun targeting Google employees critical of the memo.
On Aug. 8 A certain Twitter account published 14 screenshots showing Twitter profiles of several Google employees. These "targets" were either a woman, a trans man, or a man of color. Brown herself was included, and she has since locked down her Twitter account after getting harassed online.
Breitbart has also published a larger set of internal screenshots clearly showing names and profile pictures.
This is a form of doxxing, albeit a comparatively tamer form than full-on exposing of one's sensitive data and identity. It's an internet practice that's frowned upon, and it's easy to imagine why certain Google employees would be fearful if it escalated to something more dangerous and possibly life-threatening.
"[I]n the coming days we will find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely. We'll share details soon," Pichai wrote in an email sent to employees.
Damore, meanwhile, has gotten plenty of attention from several news outlets. He has appeared on Bloomberg saying he feels as if Google had betrayed him. He has also spoken with YouTuber Stefan Molyneux, explaining the key points of his document, among other things.