A former Black woman Google employee alleges harassment from former colleagues after claiming the tech giant fired her in retaliation due to her pushing for the company to hire Black college graduates. 

Timnit Gebru is one of the most well-respected names in artificial intelligence (AI) research. She claimed she was fired by the head of Google’s AI division for calling them out about the treatment of minority employees.

While many of her colleagues, her direct supervisor, and supporters have swooped in for Gebru’s defense, as stated in Daily Dot, “a symptom of Google’s non-inclusive workplace,” some people in the technology industry and current Googlers were not too happy to see Gebru’s accusations all over Twitter.

During her time as the co-lead of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence team, Gebru conducted research surrounding the racial bias of facial recognition and wrote a paper on it, which according to Platformer was never published due to the pushback she received from her higher-ups.

It’s no secret that Google is not the most diverse platform when it comes to hiring and staffing employees. In fact, according to Fortune via Google’s annual diversity report, “the percentage of Black employees at Google grew to just 3.7 percent in 2020 from 2.4 percent in 2014.”

Recently, the company announced that it had set a goal to improve the number of Black employees in senior roles and having a 30 percent minimum of leadership positions filled with minority-identifying employees by 2025.

After Gebru’s bosses refused to publish the paper about the risks of training machines on large amounts of text data — which included environmental, financial, and discriminatory risks, with the company’s name on it — she gave the options of either complying if certain terms were met or she would give a final date of resignation. Unfortunately, the choice was made for her after her corporate account was cut off, and she was immediately fired, she claimed on Twitter. 

Since mid-December, computer science professor Pedro Domingos has used his personal platform to express his outrage and disdain for Gebru’s claims against Google. He has even gone as far as calling Gebru and her supporters “deranged activists” and blamed them for creating a “toxic environment” at Google. 

Though he had much to share on Twitter, according to Daily Dot, Domingos had no prior involvement or inside knowledge of the situation. Moreover, Domingos has been accused by others of creating a burner account to add fuel to the digital fire and banded together with other online harassers to bully another woman into shutting down her account.

In addition to Domingos, Michael Lissack, a member of the International Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences had been harassing Gebru and her fellow supporters for weeks. Lissack has reportedly tweeted nearly 2,000 times since activating his profile last month and has even written a rebuttal paper in response to Gebru’s original work. His account has since been suspended.

Since the uproar surrounding the ouster of Gebru, two Google employees have resigned, reports The Wire. Software engineer Vinesh Kannan and David Baker, a user safety engineering director, left their employer after repeated signs of mistreatment and wrongful termination, which was an overall violation of Google’s diversity and ethics code of conduct.

“We cannot say we believe in diversity, and then ignore the conspicuous absence of many voices from within our walls,” Baker said in a statement via Reuters.

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