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Was this Facebook exec fired because of his pro-Trump views?
Web Summit/Flickr (CC-BY)
Palmer Luckey has never said why he was fired from Facebook, but some suspect it was because of his pro-Trump political leanings. A new report from the Wall Street Journal supports this ongoing theory.
Luckey is the former CEO of Oculus VR, a company Facebook acquired 2014. He donated $10,000 to an anti-Hillary Clinton group in 2016, the Daily Beast reported at the time. The group, Nimble America, posted memes about Hillary Clinton and was active on Reddit.
Luckey, a longtime Trump supporter who said he was inspired by Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, was instead pressured to publicly support Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Luckey was also associated with a Reddit username NimbleRichMan, who posted a message saying that he donated to the group in order to spread unflattering information about Clinton. While Luckey told the Daily Beast in 2016 that he was NimbleRichMan, he later distanced himself from the Reddit pseudonym, saying in a Facebook apology that he was not the author.
However, Facebook’s concern over Luckey’s association with a misogynistic group, plus questions about whether Luckey had lied about his association with NimbleRichMan, launched an HR investigation into Luckey and caused Facebook to place him on leave.
Luckey ultimately left in March of 2017, although neither party has ever publicly discussed the circumstances of his departure. Luckey did tell CNBC last month that he did not leave voluntarily. And according to the Wall Street Journal, unnamed sources close to Luckey claim he has said he was fired for his beliefs.
If Luckey was indeed fired for his political beliefs or his actions around them, that makes for some siloed thinking in the tech industry. And conservatives have recently become vocal in their complaints that their voices are being silenced on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, forcing them onto platforms like Gab and 4chan, where hateful rhetoric festers.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Facebook and Luckey for comment.
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.