It didn’t take long for a certain subset of Twitter to rear its ugly head.
Google’s new vice president of diversity, Danielle Brown, has locked down her Twitter account after receiving a barrage of tweets describing her as a “police Nazi”, insulting her looks, and bizarrely describing her as an “Islamist.”
Others criticised her for supposedly suppressing “free speech,” being “hypocritical,” and made explicitly anti-Semitic comments.
The insults stem from a scandal at Google, which has been raging over the last 72 hours. The company yesterday fired a senior software engineer, James Damore, after he posted an internal document cricitising the firm’s diversity policies, and claiming the gender gap in certain tech roles could be explained by “biological causes.” He also claimed men had a “higher drive for status.”
Damore’s memo was posted internally but went viral inside Google over the weekend, and several Googlers went public to express their disgust. One said they would leave the firm if Damore wasn’t fired, and another described the document as “pure toxicity.”
On Saturday, Brown sent her own internal memo stating that Google was “unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company” and that Google didn’t “endorse” Damore’s views. She stopped short of harsh criticism, and didn’t name Damore.
By Monday, Damore was gone, and Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai described his views in an internal email as “not OK.”
It isn’t clear that Brown was responsible for Damore’s firing, given she only joined Google in late June. Some people also felt her own response to Damore’s memo was too mild.
That hasn’t stopped the raging tide of insults.
Some of the tweets directed at Brown deal in familiar alt-right themes. Damore’s defenders slammed Brown for being a supporter of Hillary Clinton, which she publicised on her Twitter account. Others described her as an “SJW,” or “Social Justice Warrior,” an alt-right insult for anyone who expresses progressive views.
Click through on most of the accounts tweeting her, and they also express support for Trump, and misogynistic and racist views.
Although this is a scandal about Google, it highlights that Twitter still has a long way to go in tackling harassment, particularly towards women.
Brown, for example, has received noticeably more violent and insulting threats than Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Twitter.
Pichai has also received volumes of insults, but mostly from people accusing him of being a “coward” and apparent suppression of free speech.
Business Insider did notice two tweets that were explicitly racist, but none that were explicitly sexist or derogatory of his looks.
Neither Brown nor Pichai have responded to any of the insults on Twitter.
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