Mozilla Firefox, Gay Marriage, and Online Dating - Technologist
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Mozilla Firefox, Gay Marriage, and Online Dating

How do you choose your software? Most likely, you base your choices on functionality and reputation. You'll ask friends or check the Internet for suggestions, try a few alternatives, and use what fits you best.

When do politics hit the equation? If a company took a controversial stance on a divisive issue, would you drop their product? What if it were merely the CEO of a company? What if the stance was a political donation from 2008?

This is, in essence, the Mozilla conundrum. The nonprofit organization appointed a new CEO in March, Brendan Eich. He donated to pro-Prop. 8 parties in 2008, an initiative that banned gay marriage in California until last year's Supreme Court decision ended the litigation and the discrimination.

Many, including Mozilla employees and online dating companies, are now calling for Mr. Eich to be axed for his views.

All Out Fall Out

There's no questioning Eich's qualifications. He's been with Mozilla since it was part of Netscape, and started there way back in 1995. (Remember that browser?) He invented the JavaScript programming language.

And then, in 2008, he donated $1,000 to California's gay marriage ban. It made the news, and trended on Twitter, in 2012, and again when rumors about his CEO appointment hit the Internet.

Mutiny happened immediately, with employees calling for his resignation and nearly half of the board of directors walking away, including two former Mozilla CEOs.

Mozilla itself stated, in part:

"Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally.

We realize that not everyone in our community or who uses our products will agree with this. But we have always maintained that as long as you are willing to respect others, and come together for our larger mission, you are welcome. Mozilla's community is made up of people who have very diverse personal beliefs working on a common cause, which is a free and open internet. That is a very rare and special thing."

OkCupid Blocks Firefox

One of the largest online dating sites, OkCupid, blocked Firefox users yesterday, posting a notice about the controversy, noting, in part, that:

"If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we've worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it's professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure."

The post encourages visitors to try an alternative browser, while a link beneath the post gave visitors access to the site, reports ValleyWag.

Pragmatism or Politics?

Again, there's no doubt that Eich is technically qualified. He's been with the browser company since before it existed as a separate entity. And his donation was six years ago. Some would argue that Firefox is a great (and PRISM-free) browser, and that the CEO's views on a human rights and religious issue bears no relevance to computer software.

People have boycotted products from companies that supported SOPA, and websites went dark (a la OkCupid) for the same reason, but that was a tech/IP-related controversy and a tech-based response. We created a two-part PRISM-free list for those that wanted to avoid products from companies that collaborated with the NSA.

Is this different, or the same? And will the CEO's past donations have any impact on your, or your firm's browser choice? Tell us on Facebook.

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