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Google cancels staff meeting over harassment fears

Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Alphabet's Google cancelled a company-wide meeting yesterday, scheduled to discuss the controversy over a memo opposing diversity policies, the company said, citing concerns about personal attacks on employees from far-right commentators.

The company meeting was called to discuss the fallout of Google's decision on Monday to fire an engineer, James Damore, after he posted a memo on Google's internal network arguing that the company's dearth of female engineers was because women were genetically less well-suited to software engineering than men.

Google said Damore violated its code of conduct and his actions advanced harmful gender stereotypes.

In an e-mail seen by Reuters on Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said some company employees were being named personally on Web sites in relation to the incident.

"Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be 'outed' publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall," Pichai wrote. "In recognition of Googlers' concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion."

He said the company was exploring other forums for the discussion in the coming days.

Damore, who criticised in his memo "Google's left bias" and "ideological echo chamber", has since become a hero to some on the far right, who have attacked what they characterise as politically correct groupthink in Silicon Valley.

Damore claimed in a complaint filed on Monday to the National Labour Relations Board that he had been subject to "coercive statements" at Google.

Milo Yiannopoulos, an alt-right commentator, posted images on Facebook on Wednesday taken from social media profiles of several people who identified as working for Google. Some of the Google employees also identified as gay or supportive of diversity efforts.

"Looking at who works for Google," Yiannopoulos wrote on Facebook. "It all makes sense now."

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