Palmer Luckey, the 24-year-old founder of Oculus and virtual reality pioneer, was just exposed by The Daily Beast for giving money to a pro-Donald Trump non-profit through a convoluted Reddit scheme.
The news shocked the VR and tech community at large on Thursday night, but a look at Luckey's Twitter activity reveals that he's been openly in support of the alt-right and the bigotry that defines it since March.
Luckey has "liked" many alt-right memes and WikiLeaks-sanctioned conspiracy theories on Twitter, many of them from his girlfriend Nikki Moxxi, a Trump supporter and GamerGater.
Liking an islamophobic tweet is not the same as being islamophobic. A retweet is not an endorsement. People do and say a lot of dumb things on Twitter and that does not necessarily reflect their character. But from the Twitter presence of Luckey, a well-moneyed public figure and key player in the VR industry who holds a certain power and influence, a pattern emerges.
For some time we've been interested in what Palmer Luckey is into because he rarely speaks about anything but VR. But following The Daily Beast report, which showed Luckey funded a group dedicated to "shitposting" and circulating internet memes maligning Hillary Clinton, here are some other things Luckey likes:
For example, Luckey liked a March 22 tweet from Moxxi that compared being in favor of "unchecked muslim immigration" to sitting comfortably in a burning house (via KC Green's famous "it's fine" comic strip).
Motherboard noticed the tweet and captured it in April, and Luckey's like was still there when we checked earlier this month, but it has since been removed. However, it doesn't appear that Luckey has completely scrubbed his alt-right Twitter presence.
On September 12, he liked a tweet from Gorilla Mindset author and alt-right polemicist Mike Cernovich criticizing Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau for speaking at a mosque.
As recently as September 19, Luckey liked a tweet from Dilbert cartoonist and outspoken Clinton opponent (and erstwhile supporter) Scott Adams, which criticizes CNN for saying Trump is in support of "racial profiling." On September 19, Trump said that he was in favor of profiling, but not explicitly racial profiling.
Luckey has repeatedly liked tweets defending Trump or clarifying the candidate's stances on various issues, as well as WikiLeaks tweets intimating that Hillary Clinton was involved in corrupt dealings while serving as Secretary of State. Luckey also liked a Best of 4chan tweet in which anonymous Hillary "shills" were outed due to their ID tags—an extremely inside joke for alt-right forum nerds.
Luckey was pleased to see an attempt at "shilling for Hill" on 4chan fall flat.
Luckey likes a meme posted by "top conservative on Twitter" (#tcot) Villi Wilson that is intended to downplay Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric by comparing it with a pair of sentences uttered by then-president Bill Clinton in 1995.
Luckey, who appears to value the work being done by WikiLeaks, apparently shares their concern that Hillary Clinton is in poor health. Below that is a liked tweet from Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson.
Luckey liked this September 15 tweet from his girlfriend Nikki Moxxi. The link leads to a press release from the Trump campaign claiming that the 2008 Clinton campaign trafficked in "birther" rumor-mongering about Barack Obama.
As The Daily Beast reported on Thursday night, Luckey also tried to raise money for a pro-Trump social welfare 501(c)4 non-profit called Nimble America, which was founded by two moderators of the pro-Trump subreddit and alt-right meme hub r/The_Donald. Last weekend, the subreddit had a bit of a meltdown when alt-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos and several mods announced and vouched for Nimble America. According to them, the organization was founded by an anonymous "near billionaire"—NimbleRichMan—who wanted to raise money to Make America Great Again by matching whatever donations were given to Nimble America. According to The Daily Beast, Yiannopoulos and some of the mods encouraged members of the subreddit to donate.
Instead, they revolted, demanding that several mods resign. Why give money to Nimble America instead of giving money to the Trump campaign directly, and why didn't NimbleRichMan give or start his own SuperPAC? Several sub-redditors argued that the entire thing was a scheme designed to milk the community for money.
Motherboard called Nimble America on Saturday, September 17, during the r/The_Donald meltdown. The young man on the other end of the phone said that the organization didn't directly support the Trump campaign, but rather his ideals and goal of making America great again. He declined to tell us his name, what state he was located in, how much money Nimble America has raised, and who was involved, including the identity of NimbleRichMan.
According to The Daily Beast, the mysterious NimbleRichMan was Luckey.
Oculus was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. Given that Facebook board member Peter Thiel spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention without apparent blowback from the rest of the board, there's no reason to believe Luckey will suffer consequences for Nimble America.
Facebook and Oculus did not immediately respond to Motherboard's request for comment. This story will be updated if we hear back.
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