Hootsuite has reportedly laid off two employees who spoke out against a contract the social media company had connected to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The layoffs come less than two weeks after it was made public that Vancouver-based Hootsuite had signed a deal that allowed ICE to uses its software – a revelation that led to employee and public outcry.
Sam Anderson, a senior training specialist with Hootsuite, who originally posted about the deal on September 23, shared on Tuesday that she has been laid off by Hootsuite.
“I assume it’s fair to say (and also probably obvious) that it was not my decision to leave.”
“As of yesterday morning I am no longer employed by Hootsuite,” she wrote. “I’m not sure what I can and can’t say about my departure, but I assume it’s fair to say (and also probably obvious) that it was not my decision to leave.”
According to reporting by BIV, a second Hootsuite employee who had publicly spoken out against the contract was also recently let go.
In response to questions about its decision to layoff employees that had spoken out against the ICE deal, Hootsuite sent the following statement to BetaKit, citing privacy concerns.
“To protect privacy, we do not discuss details related to any employee status,” the statement read. “Hootsuite supports differences of thought and opinion within the company and firmly believes in engaging dialogue. We deeply value the trust of our employees, partners and customers. To that end we must be unequivocal in upholding our confidentiality obligations.”
Following internal and external outcry on September 23, Hootsuite made the decision to pull out of a customer contract involving ICE. CEO Tom Keiser made the announcement in an email (obtained by BetaKit) sent to all Hootsuite employees shortly after 9 pm PST on September 23, some two hours before an article published by BIV. Hootsuite originally denied claims to BIV that it had signed a deal with ICE.
Hootsuite later told BetaKit it was “not entering into an ICE contract.” The deal in question was done through a third party, a US-based firm by the name of FCN, Inc. US government documents indicated a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) delivery order for a Hootsuite license for ICE’s office of public affairs. The delivery order, for $508,832, indicates the licensing agreement began on September 18, 2020.
In response to questions about whether Hootsuite has officially backed out of the deal with FCN, Inc. as of October 6, a spokesperson for Hootsuite told BetaKit on Tuesday, “as we’ve stated, Hootsuite has decided that we will not do business with ICE and we have notified all relevant parties.”
The announcement that Hootsuite was no longer going to pursue the deal followed months of internal discussion that ultimately ended with the social media company moving ahead with the contract.
In a statement on September 24, Keiser noted that a “broad emotional and passionate reaction” from Hootsuite employees over the last 24 hours “spurred additional dialog.”
“The decision has created a divided company, and this is not the kind of company I came to lead,” said the recently appointed CEO. “I —and the rest of the management team— share the concerns our people have expressed. As a result, we have decided to not proceed with the deal with ICE.”