Although social media was instrumental in the election of President Donald Trump, conservatives are relentlessly trying to take down the Silicon Valley tech executives behind the scenes.
Case in point, BuzzFeed revealed that former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon made an attempt to infiltrate Facebook’s hiring process with a mole back in 2016.
BuzzFeed reportedly obtained emails sent between Bannon and Chris Gacek — a former congressional staffer who is now a top official at the Family Research Council, which lobbies against abortion and LGBT rights.
In the exchange, Gacek informed Bannon, who was still the head of Breitbart and had not yet been appointed to his White House role, about a job opening for “Public Policy Manager” at the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger division.
Gacek suggested that Bannon “flood the zone with candidates” who would report back to him about Facebook’s job application process.
All of this was brewed, presumably, to gain firsthand Intel that supports conservatives’ argument that their voices are suppressed by the so-called liberal-run tech companies.
This initiative mirrors the recent situation at Google in which James Damore was terminated after distributing a sexist memo criticizing the company’s pro-diversity efforts and asserting that women are not suitable for high-profile jobs in the tech industry.
His firing sparked a huge debate surrounding Google’s tolerance, or lack thereof, for conservative opinions. When the news broke, the alt-right jumped to Damore’s defense, claiming Google silenced him for speaking what they consider to be the “truth.”
A crowd-funding campaign was even set up on his behalf where contributors went as far as to call Damore an “American hero,” who was the “victim of a massive hate campaign from colleagues at his own company.”
The response to Damore’s firing suits the right-wing narrative that aims to demonize tech executives as biased and intolerant liberals.
By shedding this negative light on the tech industry, conservatives are manipulating the public into sympathizing with them and thus becoming more open-minded to their views and rhetoric.
They've clearly tapped into the fact that social media is incredibly influential and can be an excellent tool to gain political advantage, as evidenced by the election of Trump.
However, Facebook has been able to deflect these efforts by hiring conservatives into top positions, including its vice president of global public policy, Joel Kaplan, who was a deputy chief of staff in the President George W. Bush White House.
As for Bannon's efforts, it's unclear whether his scheme went beyond the email exchange.
However, if the plan was ever set in motion, it was certainly thwarted as the company hired Christine Turner, former director of trade policy and global supply chain security in President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, for the WhatsApp position.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, Win McNamee