Automattic, which owns WordPress.com and a number of other web development and publishing tools, has signed a pledge not to help build a Muslim registry. The company’s founder and CEO, entrepreneur Matt Mullenweg, signed the pledge on behalf of his entire company today. Called neveragain.tech, the pledge is hosted on GitHub and was created to discourage Silicon Valley companies from participating in the creation of a database that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration could use to monitor and target Muslims.
The pledge has so far been signed by more than 1,300 people, and it now has the weight of Mullenweg’s company behind it. Prior to today, the pledge mostly consisted of individual members from across the tech industry. “I'm personally signing, and also speaking on behalf of the entire Automattic company, which makes WordPress.com, Jetpack, Simplenote, and WooCommerce,” Mullenweg wrote on GitHub. In doing so, Mullenweg has bolstered the legitimacy to the pledge, and his actions could encourage other chief executives to do the same on behalf of their respective companies.
The pledge was first published on Tuesday and has been steadily gaining steam. Its express purpose is to lay out a course of action for signees to take if Silicon Valley companies are called upon to help build a database for the incoming Trump administration. Its public mission statement reads:
We, the undersigned, are employees of tech organizations and companies based in the United States. We are engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies. We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable.
Automattic’s refusal to participate in building a Muslim registry comes just a few days after Facebook was forced to respond to journalists about the subject. The company repeatedly denied requests for comment on whether it would help build such a registry for Trump, starting when The Intercept began asking large tech companies about the topic earlier this month.
But when a PR person accidentally emailed a reporter from BuzzFeed calling its silence on the subject a “straw man” — a tangential argument that is constructed specifically to be defeated — BuzzFeed published that email. A Facebook spokesperson then issued a public statement saying, “No one has asked us to build a Muslim registry, and of course we would not do so.”
- Source: GitHub
Correction: Automattic created and owns WordPress.com, but WordPress does not operate as a separate company as this story’s headline originally indicated.