Ex-Facebook exec ousted from company sparked controversy with pro-Trump views: report

Ex-Facebook exec ousted from company sparked controversy with pro-Trump views: report

A former top executive at Facebook who was ousted from the company may have been fired over his support for Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported Sunday that Palmer Luckey has recently told people that he was fired for supporting Trump before that year's presidential election. Luckey's donation in September 2016 to NimbleAmerica, a group that funded ads attacking Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Roger Stone invokes gag order in new fundraiser MORE, reportedly sparked backlash within Facebook.

ADVERTISEMENT

Six months after making that donation, Luckey was no longer at the company. The Journal noted that Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Kremlin seeks more control over Russian internet | Huawei CEO denies links to Chinese government | Facebook accused of exposing health data | Harris calls for paper ballots | Twitter updates ad rules ahead of EU election Patients, health data experts accuse Facebook of exposing personal info Hillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise MORE testified in front of Congress this year that Luckey's departure had nothing to do with his political beliefs. 

According to the Journal, Luckey was first put on leave and later fired. In the fall of 2016, Zuckerberg pressured Luckey to voice support publicly for Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonPotential GOP primary challenger: Trump's 'contempt for the American people' behind possible bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration Former Mass. governor takes step toward Trump primary challenge MORE, the libertarian nominee in that year's election, the Journal reported, citing internal emails and sources familiar with the conversations. 

Luckey is a longtime supporter of Trump. The Journal noted that Facebook is among a number of tech companies that have recently been accused of liberal bias on their platforms.

That criticism has included attacks from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE, who wrote on Twitter in August that social media companies were "totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices."

Facebook did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill. 

A Facebook spokeswoman told the Journal in a statement that the departure of Luckey wasn't because of his political views.

“We can say unequivocally that Palmer’s departure was not due to his political views. We’re grateful for Palmer’s contributions to Oculus, and we’re glad he continues to actively support the VR industry," the spokeswoman said.

Luckey in 2014 sold Oculus, a virtual reality company, to Facebook for more than $2 billion.

The Journal reported that Luckey hired an employment lawyer who argued that Facebook violated California law by urging him to support Johnson and punishing him for his political views.

Luckey ultimately received a $100 million buyout from the company, according to the newspaper.

Luckey told the Journal in a statement that his departure from the company was a thing of the past, the newspaper reported. 

“I believe the team that remains at Oculus is still the best in the VR industry, and I am rooting for them to succeed," he added.