How does one best respond to criticism of the place where one works? There are a number of perfectly respectable answers to this question — and then there’s what a number of former eBay employees are alleged to have done. A recent article by AJ Dellinger at Mic describes “an extended harassment campaign” that the group undertook against a married couple, the publishers of a newsletter focusing on e-commerce. What did this campaign entail? Turns out it went a lot further than some snarky emails or Tweets:
“Investigators say that the plot to intimidate the husband and wife team started with anonymous messages and packages sent to their home. The eBay employees allegedly sent a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a box of cockroaches, and pornography (the last package was sent to the couple’s neighbors). Other packages included a funeral wreath and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse.”
As bad as that all sounds, it didn’t end there. Instead, the harassment reached new heights (or lows), including surveillance of the couple and sharing personal information of theirs online. Unfortunately for the group of employees, the couple whom they’d targeted eventually reached out to law enforcement, who turned their gaze towards eBay. This led to the firing of the 6 employees who’d been involved in the harassment campaign.
Earlier this month, eBay issued a statement regarding the former employees as well as its own internal investigation. One question that’s left unanswered is whether or not former eBay CEO Devin Wenig played a part in the harassment. The wording of the statement as it pertains to Wenig is very carefully worded:
The internal investigation found that, while Mr. Wenig’s communications were inappropriate, there was no evidence that he knew in advance about or authorized the actions that were later directed toward the blogger and her husband. However, as the Company previously announced, there were a number of considerations leading to his departure from the Company.
By trying to suppress critiques of their company, the now-former eBay employees opened the door to a much more widespread criticism of it. There’s more than a little irony to be found there.
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