Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler said on Twitter today that she believes she has become the target of a “smear campaign.”
Earlier this week, Fowler wrote a blog post detailing graphic sexual harassment at the company. The post resonated with many women and set off a firestorm of criticism against Uber. The ensuing controversy resulted in famously cool CEO Travis Kalanick responding strongly and becoming emotional. The company even made reference to the engineer’s claims in customer service interactions during the week, when users started to delete the ride-hailing app in protest. Shortly after publishing her explosive description of sexual discrimination at Uber, Fowler said she received such an outpouring of support that her Twitter and Mail apps were jammed.
A few days later, however, Fowler suspects a backlash. She said publicly that someone has launched a smear campaign, looking for details on her personal life.
“Research for the smear campaign has begun. If you are contacted by anyone asking for personal and intimate info about me, please report asap,” Fowler said on Twitter.
Research for the smear campaign has begun. If you are contacted by anyone asking for personal and intimate info about me, please report asap
— ☃️Susan Fowler🎄 (@susanthesquark) February 24, 2017
Tech observers immediately suspected Uber. The company quickly replied that it has no connection to any intimidation or smear campaign against Fowler.
“This behavior is wrong and Uber is absolutely not involved in it,” an Uber representative told Ladders.
A long February for Uber
Uber has had a challenging February. It has struggled to recover from a “Delete Uber” campaign started by activists outraged by Kalanick’s involvement with the Trump administration’s business advisory council.
Responding to the sexual discrimination allegations in Fowler’s blog post, Kalanick said in a memo that former US Attorney General Eric Holder will examine the ex-employee’s claims and “diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly.”
The company says Uber’s technology teams have consistently included roughly 15% women. Facebook is at 17%, Google at 19%, and Twitter is at 15%. He said the company would publish a diversity report in coming months.