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 ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump seeks to project confidence on economy at New Hampshire rally MORE, reportedly sparked backlash within Facebook.

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Six months after making that donation, Luckey was no longer at the company. The Journal noted that Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook users in lawsuit say company failed to warn them of known risks before 2018 breach Social media never intended to be in the news business — but just wait till AI takes over Facebook exploring deals with media outlets for news section: report 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 JohnsonTrump's GOP challenger: 'I may be reduced' to debating Alec Baldwin Amash won't rule out Libertarian challenge to Trump Buzz grows Amash will challenge Trump as a Libertarian 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 TrumpWarren unveils Native American policy plan Live-action 'Mulan' star spurs calls for boycott with support of Hong Kong police Don't let other countries unfairly tax America's most innovative companies 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.