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[Slashdot] - Coinbase's New 'Direction' Is Censorship, Leaked Audio Reveals

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An anonymous reader shares a report: Brian Armstrong, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, revealed in a late September blog post that the company would prohibit employees from debating political or social issues, deeming this a "distraction" from the company's mission. Armstrong doubled down on his position during a virtual all-hands held on October 1, billed as an "AMA" (for "ask me anything"), from which Motherboard obtained audio. The AMA was meant to further explain the company's new "apolitical" direction for those who might consider accepting a severance package that was offered to any employee who felt "uncomfortable." Executives also explained when and where dissent would be appropriate, and explained why they required employees to delete specific political Slack messages. This, at a company that works with cryptocurrencies intended to replace government banking systems in order to create a more free world. During the meeting, Armstrong claimed there is a "silent majority" at Coinbase that agreed with his decision but feared reprisal from colleagues. Armstrong and Coinbase leadership, however, failed to soothe fears that this policy would police employees if they voiced opinions that did not align with Armstrong or this "silent majority." One former Coinbase employee who left the company after the AMA and to whom Motherboard provided anonymity due to fear of industry reprisal said that these assurances were insufficient and workers feared surveillance and censorship. These fears are not unfounded. Emile Choi, Coinbase's chief operating officer, explained that at least two employees were asked to delete Slack posts, and that HR head L.J. Brock "proactively reached out to employees to explain why their posts would be taken down. He had a very productive conversation with both of them and they understood the context," she said. One employee asked if Coinbase leadership thought that this was "taking away employee power to start a discussion except with 300 character questions" in an AMA format. "It seems like Coinbase is stunting internal discussion." Choi said that the entire executive team was aligned on Armstrong's post and policy, and that the new "culture is focused on what unites us and what we face in the world, which is building toward our mission," Choi said. "The goal was not intended to be harsh, it wasn't intended to land in a way where people felt they were being policed."

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Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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