Tesla Employee Fired for Criticizing Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Technology

Tesla Employee Fired for Criticizing Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Technology

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A former Tesla employee has been “dismissed” from the company after critiquing Tesla’s technology on his YouTube channel. 

John Bernal previously worked on Tesla’s Autopilot team, having been promoted from data annotation specialist to advanced driver assistance systems test operator during his approximately two-year tenure. With a Model 3 of his own, Bernal started his YouTube channel, AI Addict, hoping to share his love of Tesla’s “potentially life-saving technology” with the world. Bernal made a few videos in which he reviewed other electric vehicles but mainly used his online presence to show off Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) beta feature. 

But that very same YouTube channel resulted in Bernal’s termination one year later. According to CNBC, Tesla didn’t like that Bernal posted a video in which he showed his Model 3 hitting a bollard following a FSD failure. After the video went live in early February, a manager from the Autopilot team told Bernal not to post negative or critical content involving FSD, but the manager “never put anything in writing.” By the end of the month, however, Bernal had lost his job.

The termination came as a surprise, given that Bernal had always been upfront about the existence of his YouTube channel with coworkers and had only ever posted videos about end-user FSD beta releases. Though many companies do explicitly forbid their employees from publicly criticizing or demonstrating their respective tech, Tesla’s social media policy simply states the company “relies on the common sense and good judgment of its employees to engage in responsible social media activity,” according to a current Tesla employee. Of the social platforms listed by the policy, YouTube isn’t included. 

Bernal’s FSD Beta access was also revoked at the time of dismissal despite a lack of safety “strikes” in the software. To be fair, though, FSD is $200 per month or $12,000 outright; if the capability was added to Bernal’s Tesla free-of-charge as an employee perk (as CNBC says it was), it would make sense that it would be taken away after termination. Still, the loss of Bernal’s free FSD has impacted his ability to continue reviewing the technology now that he’s completely on his own. 

Despite it all, Bernal apparently remains committed to Tesla’s technology. “I still care about Tesla, vehicle safety and finding and fixing bugs,” Bernal told CNBC. 

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