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Mozilla steps up damage control as pressure for CEO Eich's ouster mounts

April 1, 2014 06:38 AM ET

On Sunday, Mark Surman, the executive director of Mozilla, also weighed in. Surman, who titled his post "Mozilla is messy," argued that while those involved with the open-source developer were often at odds on all kinds of issues, they were of one mind when it came to the importance of an open Internet. "This ability to set aside differing and diverse beliefs to focus on a common cause is something we as Mozilla stand for on principle," Surman said.

Even so, Surman worried that harm been done to Mozilla by the strife over Eich's stance on gay marriage. "I worry that Mozilla is in a tough spot right now," Surman confided. "I worry that we do a bad job of explaining ourselves, that people are angry and don't know who we are or where we stand. And, I worry that in the time it takes to work this through and explain ourselves the things I love about Mozilla will be deeply damaged."

Some of that damage came in the form of a petition launched over the weekend by Credo Action, an online network of progressive activists. The online petition, which demanded Eich expressly support marriage equality -- or failing that, resign or be fired by Mozilla's board -- had collected more than 68,000 signatures by late Monday.

"Sixty-five thousand is definitely a strong response for a campaign sent on a Sunday afternoon," said Becky Bond, Credo Action's political director, in an email reply to questions earlier Monday when the signature total was several thousand less than near the day's end.

In a statement late Monday, a Mozilla spokesperson said, "We are sorry that Credo was unable to accept Mozilla's formal support of marriage equality" and Eich's previously-stated commitments to ensure equality at Mozilla and uphold the company's policies. Mozilla's statement did not, as Credo Action's petition requested, include Eich's personal promise to support equal rights to marriage for all.

Elsewhere, OkCupid.com became the first website to encourage a boycott of Firefox. Members of the dating service running Firefox now see an interstitial message that states, "Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid."

Users can continue to the website with Firefox, but only after seeing the message and links to alternative browsers, including Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari. In what may have been a Freudian slip, OkCupid labeled Microsoft's browser as "Internet Exploder."

"OkCupid never reached out to us to let us know of their intentions, nor to confirm facts," the same Mozilla spokesperson said Monday evening of the site's boycott.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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