BUSINESS
10/06/2020 18:24 EDT

Hootsuite Whistleblower Fired After Criticizing Contract With ICE

Sam Anderson says she lost her job after calling out Hootsuite’s $1.5 million deal with ICE.

Hootsuite Media Centre
The interior of Hootsuite's Toronto offices.

VANCOUVER — The employee who blew the whistle on Canadian social media giant Hootsuite’s proposed contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is no longer with the company.

Sam Anderson announced Tuesday on Twitter that she is no longer at Hootsuite and she didn’t leave by choice.

“As of yesterday morning I am no longer employed by Hootsuite. 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,” she wrote.

WATCH: ICE whistleblower says detainee undergo alarming number of hysterectomies. Story continues below.

 

Headquartered in Vancouver, Hootsuite is a tech start-up that produces social media and marketing software. The company came under fire several weeks ago after Anderson publicly criticized her employer for “putting profits over people” with a three-year, $1.5 million contract with ICE. 

The U.S. immigration agency has been subject to repeated controversy since it was founded in 2003, most recently for massive crackdowns and deporations of undocumented immigrants during the Trump presidency. There have also been recent reports of an alleged forced sterilization program at an ICE concentration camp in Georgia state.

In a lengthy Twitter thread on Sept. 23, Anderson shared details of the contract and the extent of employee opposition to it.

“That we are eagerly accepting money from an organization that is allegedly subjecting its female detainees to forced hysterectomies, that has a documented history of locking children in cages, that tears families apart and destroys lives is devastating and disgusting in a way that I can’t effectively put into words,” Anderson wrote.

Anderson also described how the deal was greenlit despite members of the Hootsuite support team in Mexico describing their personal experiences being “targeted or harassed” by ICE. 

As a result of public outcry about the deal, Hootsuite says the company cancelled the deal a day later.

“We have heard the lived experiences from our people and the hurt they are feeling,” Hootsuite CEO Tom Keiser said in a Sept. 24 statement. “I, and the rest of the management team, share the concerns our people have expressed. As a result, we have decided not to proceed with the deal with ICE.”

However, it remains unclear what work the company already did or will continue to do with ICE. A third-party company called FCN was already awarded a one-year contract on Sept. 18 worth $508,832 to provide ICE with licences to Hootsuite’s software, and the Vancouver-based company has worked previously with U.S. federal agencies. 

While Anderson expressed concern for her job when she initially shared the information, it took over two weeks before she was formally let go Monday. She declined to speak to the media regarding her termination. 

In a statement to HuffPost Canada, a representative from Hootsuite said the company would not disclose the reasons for Anderson’s departure.

“To protect privacy, we do not discuss details related to any employee status. 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.”

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