Tesla fired an employee who reviewed its driver assistance features on YouTube

Tesla has a complicated relationship with customers who pay to beta test its “Full Sell Driving” software. Often these people are die-hard fans, eager to promote the company’s prowess and show off its new driver assistance features. Sometimes, though, they overshare — posting videos that show exactly when and how Tesla’s software goes wrong.

When the person sharing those clips also works for Tesla, things get even more complicated. John Bernal, a former Tesla employee who reviewed the company’s FSD Beta software on his AI Addict YouTube channel, said he was fired by the company last month after posting a video showing his Tesla hitting a bollard.

As reported by CNBC, Bernal says that before he was fired, his managers told him verbally that he “violated Tesla policy” and that his YouTube channel was a “conflict of interest” (although his written separation notice did not specify the reason for his dismissal). Bernal said he had already been approached by managers after posting a video in March 2021 that showed a number of close calls with pedestrians and cyclists while using beta FSD software. The video has over 250,000 views and has been widely shared on social media like Twitter.

Bernal said that after posting the video, “A manager from my Autopilot team tried to dissuade me from posting any negative or critical content involving FSD Beta in the future. They held a videoconference with me but never nothing written down.

CNBC says Tesla’s social media policy for employees does not prohibit criticizing the company’s products in public, but notes that the company “relys on the common sense and good judgment of its employees to engage in responsible social media activity. Bernal says that after he was fired, his access to FSD Beta software was revoked.

FSD beta gives customers who pay for the company’s advanced driver assistance software (dubbed by Tesla “Full Self Driving,” much to the chagrin of many industry groups) access to updates experimental. According to Tesla, some 60,000 customers have signed up to test FSD Beta on public roads, providing it with invaluable data to improve the software. The company says there have been no accidents or injuries involving FSD Beta since its launch (although there have been a number of fatalities where Tesla’s usual driver assistance software was involved).

Tesla previously required customers who opted into the FSD beta to sign a nondisclosure agreement, which told signatories, “there are a lot of people who want Tesla to fail; Don’t let them distort your comments and media posts. Tesla CEO Elon Musk later said the company “probably” doesn’t need NDAs because people tend to ignore them anyway.

A number of FSD Beta testers post reviews of the company’s software on YouTube, and Bernal says he intends to keep his channel going (although he now has to borrow friends’ cars to test FSD Beta ). As Bernal said CNBC“I always care about Tesla, vehicle safety, and finding and fixing bugs.”

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