There’s a belief among many right-leaning online communities that there’s a conspiracy among big Silicon Valley companies to censor their views. This idea stretches back years. And when a figure emerges whose experience seems to prove that accusation, that person becomes a right-wing folk hero.
In August, James Damore was fired from Google for writing a memo that, the company said, perpetuated “gender stereotypes.” What happened to him was, from the perspective of the right-wing Internet, a fulfilled prophecy, something they expect a company like Google to do to conservatives. And when a Damore crosses over into the mainstream, it becomes an opportunity to evangelize.
Damore’s firing — and then, tech companies’ crackdown on hate speech following the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville later that month — launched a surprising movement among right-wing tech leaders to regulate companies like Facebook, which they believe are too biased against conservatives to properly moderate content on their own. This, and not Cambridge Analytica, has been the reason many conservatives wanted Zuckerberg in the hot seat.