Even fed-up tech workers are paralyzed by Silicon Valley’s culture. From a column: It’s easier for tech workers to talk about taking a stand than to do so. For one, big technology companies such as Facebook and Google are viciously competitive about acquiring talent. They hire or poach the best people, sometimes just to prevent a competitor from having access to them instead. Some workers don’t want to rock the boat for fear they might get blacklisted, Ian McCarthy, a vice president of product at Yahoo, said. And ironically, the brokenness at companies such as Facebook and Uber can also make their jobs enticing. Disruption is appealing, and the promise to move fast and break things (even priceless and irrecoverable ones, such as democracy) can be a recruiting tool.
Others already in a company’s employ may see an opportunity to fix some of its ills. One product manager at a large tech firm, who also advises many early-career professionals, spoke with me on the condition of anonymity because she fears reprisal from within the industry. She told me about her “activist” friends who refuse to leave jobs at Facebook, even if they disagree with the company’s practices. “They came to change the world,” she said, “and stayed to work within the system on issues they cared about.” The same drive that makes these workers care about the consequences of Facebook’s impact on democracy also makes them want to stick it out in an effort to improve the service.
Even so, Facebook seems to have crossed the line of tolerable abhorrence for some tech workers. Inside the business, nextplayism may offer the best, and maybe the only, way for them to show their distaste. “The vast majority of people I know at the director-and-up level, when they are leaving a company and looking for a new gig, they’re Never Facebookers,” McCarthy, who is also an occasional collaborator of mine, said, referring to senior-level roles. “They’re offended if you even offer to do introductions to someone at Facebook.” But that is a privileged attitude. Much of the magical operation of online services is driven by rote laborers, such as moderators, AI-training wranglers, and gig workers. They aren’t counted as members of the industry, except perhaps as its casualties.
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