Numerous people have been upset at the way Raspberry Pi has addressed criticism on social media. Among them is James Spencer, a London-based developer. “In my head they’ve always been this grassroots company just trying to do computer stuff with makers and hackers,” he said via Twitter DM.
Spencer raised his concerns over Robert’s hiring directly with Raspberry Pi on Mastodon; the brand told him to “chill,” then blocked him. Spencer described the company’s reaction as “toxic” and “indicative of how they’ve grown as a company.” He added, “A social media manager for the company doesn’t have to be technical, but at its very base, they clearly do not know their audience.”
Upton said she believes much of the negative reaction to Roberts’s hiring is not genuine. “Toby was in the police force for 30 years in the UK,” she said. “He’s a decorated officer. He worked on organized crime, on getting drugs out of schools. He’s not a bad person, and this is not the United States. I think there are people out there intent on perpetuating a culture war on Mastodon. And I’m not sure their motives are necessarily benign.”
Upton prevaricated as to why Spencer had been blocked by Raspberry Pi’s official account on Mastodon. Confronted with the messages and the account’s response, she said it was likely Spencer had been banned for “concern trolling” because he wrote, “You’ve basically written this guy specialises in surveillance and now he works with our computers, yay!”
Later in the interview, Upton said that the social media manager had possibly received death threats around the time Spencer replied to her post and could have been shaken up. “If she has made an error and blocked somebody who should not have been blocked, people should give her the benefit of the doubt given what had just happened to her,” Upton said.
When asked whether Raspberry Pi had managed the situation well as an organization, Upton responded, “I think come next week we will be talking about something else.” She also said as a Chinese woman she has long had bad experiences on the internet. “Your characteristics aren’t necessarily visible, but Toby is a former policeman. That is how he identifies. It’s what he is.” When asked if she was trying to equate being a police officer to being a Chinese woman, Upton replied, “No, no, no, no, absolutely not. But I am saying people will grab onto things to jump on.”
Hills, the game developer, believes that it’s entirely possible people are going overboard in their responses to the hire because of what they thought Raspberry Pi represents — and what they think Roberts does. “Maybe people are getting overworked on social media,” he said. “They see the word ‘policeman’ and they’ve gone off on one. The bloke might be a lovely guy.”