In the past, the social and political views of tech giants have been largely ignored. Though charitable efforts were celebrated, personal belief systems never made it into the mainstream consciousness.
Now, the protection of business moguls from public scrutiny has rang out its death knells.
Brendan Eich is the first to fall, following exposure of his political contributions back in 2008. He gave $1,000 in the battle of Proposition 8, the banning of gay marriage in California.
The moment knowledge hit the media of this fact, people began to speak out. OKCupid in particular surprised users with a letter that stated:
Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.
From there, the story went viral. Social media was buzzing with news of the CEO’s contribution, most of it overwhelmingly negative in spite of a few conservative voices coming to his defense.
There are a few interesting points about this event. First, the fact that it was not gay right organizations putting pressure on Mozilla to force a resignation. On the contrary, by the time they started to really release any statements on the matter, Eich was on his way out. It was more likely user dissent which scared the tech company into making a move before things went any further.
Second, gay rights have become a major corporate selling point very quickly. While you may have occasionally seen some ads featuring homosexual couples in the last couple of years, it was rare and often short lived.
Now you have a pregnancy test commercial with a lesbian couple, a gay couple in a graham cracker ad, and companies all across the board suddenly all for supporting the fight for equality in America.
Why is this happening so fast? Hard to say, though it is likely due to more than half of the country openly supporting gay marriage, and the increase of states legalizing it. Not to mention gay marriage becoming officially legal in the UK earlier this week.
In other words, Eich chose the wrong side of history and got swept up in the fervor when that became known. What might have been an acceptable move in 2008 is now seen as pure bigotry.
How this might change the tech industry’s now broken shield against scrutiny will be interesting to see.
Source: Mozilla Blog