"Why'd you do it?" we ask Fake Google employee Max Bell Alper

The viral video of Max Alper, posing as a Google employee, shouting down protesters today.

Within a half hour of our original post on today's tech gentrification and transit protest, the Guardian learned that Max Bell Alper, a union organizer with Unite Here Local 2850 was the man shouting down Google bus protesters earlier this morning. We asked Alper what motivated him to impersonate a Google employee.

You can read the original post, with updates, here.

Alper maintained that he meant no deception, and that it was all "political theater."

"This is political theater to demonstrate what is happening to the city. It's about more than just the bus," he said. "These are enormous corporations that are investing in this community. These companies, like Google, should be proud of where they're from and invest in their communities."

And the effects of the tech boom are strong, are real, which the thousands of long-time San Franciscans priced out of the city can attest to. The Bay Guardian has covered this extensively, which is what led us to cover the protest. Unfortunately for the organizers of this morning's Google bus protest, all of their work may now be for naught. 

Some of the protesters feel duped.

"No I did not know him, he didn't tell me that he was going to be doing that," said Erin McElroy, who since January has led the Anti-Evitction Mapping Project. A part-time nanny and caretaker for the elderly, she's poured hours of her downtime into the project. The protest was supposed to highlight an issue that for the past year has been her life's work.

McElroy is the one being screamed at in this video:

"I'm really upset that this happened. We've calculated about 11,000 no fault evictions since 1997," she said. And the evictions only count units -- there's no telling how many people were in each unit. Many other tenants are bought out of their rentals as well, displacing tenants in what critics call "invisible evictions." The plight of long-time San Franciscans may be lost in the shuffle over Alper's deceptions.

When asked if he intentionally intended to deceive media, he replied "People are talking all over the country about what's happening in San Francisco (referring to evictions and displacement). That's the debate we need to have here. The more we talk about it, the more we think about it, the more we're going to see the tech companies need to contribute."

Alper said that he did not intend to engage in theater before going to the protest, but when there made the decision, "spontaneously," to stage the argument. When he maintained his story that this was political theater, we again asked why he did not verify his name at the protest itself -- and only after the story blew up in national and local media.

"This was improv political theater," he repeated.

Alper came to the protest in a backpack and dressed in a button down shirt, which some readers via Twitter and comments rightly pointed out may have been his "tech costume," suggesting he planned the theater beforehand. Indeed, his performance was impeccable, mirroring snarky and shallow comments made by tech luminaries like Peter Shih just a few months ago.

The Guardian noted this, asking him how he came to show up in near perfect costume for his tech theater. "This is what I wear everyday," he said. 

McElroy didn't want the larger story to get lost in the shuffle. "I understand it was a highly dramatic moment people were drawn to," she said. "But I wish people would pay attention to the larger systemic issue of tech capital creating a particular class in San Francisco that's displacing long-time residents."

Leslie Dreyer, one of the protest organizers, said that though Alper's shoutout turned out to be a deception, riders on the Google bus itself were making plenty of snarky comments of their own, which she captured on a camera she was wearing as she entered the bus. 

"People were shaming others for even talking to me," she said. "A person tried to read (my pamphlet) and people said 'no don't take anything from them!'"

In the Guardian's original post we clarified that though it appeared Alper got off the bus and was late to work, as he repeatedly claimed, we had not verified that he was an employee. We did identify him as an employee in the headline, which we quickly amended.

In fact, we actively asked for news tips as to his identity, listing the news@sfbg.com email address to solicit help. Tips flowed in within 20 minutes of the original post. Anthony, a recent San Francisco ex-pat, emailed us identifying the shouting man as Max Bell Alper, a union organizer. The Guardian took time to confirm this, comparing photos and calling other sources. Ex-Guardian reporter Yael Chanoff interviewed Alper during her extensive coverage of the Occupy protests some time ago, as some have pointed out, but as she no longer works here she was not around to identify him quickly. The reporter who covered the event today only covered one night of the Occupy protests, the night Scott Olsen was injured, and had no experience with Alper.

When we confirmed Alper's identity, we immediately amended our post. Many, including San Francisco Chronicle reporter Ellen Huet, asked if our tweet contributed to the mis-identification problem as well. We tweeted back "Mistakes should stand, and lets correct, not erase them."

That's exactly what we did. 

The story quickly went viral, featured on the blogs SFist and Valleywag. SF Weekly covered the aftermath. The time between our original posting and our correction was 56 minutes. 

 "Many people put hours into this [protest]," McElroy said. And many more San Franciscans are losing their homes. Let's hope once people are done talking about Alper, they talk about that. 


It has a department of environment and labor redundant to the state and fed.

It is not broke and yet can't pave the streets.

Are you one of those people who insist that others can't think for themselves?

The federal Government spends billions on defense and nation building, and yet just cut back on food stamps.

And yet the government is broke.

You are not one of those people who insists that those outside of orthodoxy are mindless and fooled?

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

I bet the streets of Aspen are paved. With gold, I hear.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

very successful even though only 1% of Americans can afford to live there.

And that augers well for when SF completes it's transtition to a similar state.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

Their monster buses have destroyed the asphalt on our residential streets while ignoring the laws about commercial vehicles over 7500 pounds GVW on such streets. I'm tired of these pimple-faced morons using our neighborhoods for their pizza sucking habits not to mention the Audi-ridden landscape with their $80K garbage taking up all of parking as the limo bus commutes to their overpaid CIA snitch jobs harvesting our personal info to sell everyone downstream. Those scumbags need a brick enema. They are no asset to this city.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 7:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:14 pm


Yes, our infrastructure is indeed suffering because of them and I've noticed the ignoring of laws as you point out. They don't give a fuck about anything but them$elve$! Complete disregard for the city they landed in.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

The bums lost. Get over it and move to Oakland.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

Get over it and eat shit.

Posted by The Hoebblin Love Child of Smaug on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

As for the bums losing and moving to Oakland, I just don't see Google doing that. The Surveillance-State Tech Industrial Complex enjoys bumming off the city too much for their corporate welfare to move to Oakland, Daly City, Aspen or anywhere else.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

Hard to remember a day as embarrassing as this one for Progressives.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

where you wet your pants...

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 11:54 pm

Rather than having faux-green shuttles for their employees (and calling it "private group transport"), maybe Google can establish their own major city somewhere and leave ours alone. Maybe put their city on a barge and ship it out into the Pacific.

So apparently these "bright" Google employees have never heard of the truly green concept of *LIVING CLOSE TO WHERE YOU WORK*. They prefer to have their ass on a tech shuttle for how many hours a day with their commute? Wouldn't it be easier to live near Google's "campus?" That WOULD BE green, and not this faux-green bull shit they're doing now.

The protestors are absolutely right. This is completely outrageous that public accommodations (the MUNI bus stops) are being used for private corporate benefit and ravaging the city in the process to make this a city for only the wealthy. Someone used the word "parasite" in reference to these tech companies. Perfect word.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

Google should build more campuses in San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

The worst part is that the vast majority both techies and protestors are carpetbagging out of towners. The techies just have better jobs (compared to "part time nanny and caretaker for the elderly*).

I am a native. You just happen to live here, but for me, San Francisco is my home. In my eyes, your opinions are all equally invalid.

*honestly you'd have to be insane to leave your kids or elderly with that dandruff flake

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

Moved from California a long time ago because it was getting too expensive to live in and San Francisco was the worst example of excess. And it is way over rated.

Posted by Doug on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

"And it is way over rated."

In your mind. But clearly the predatory and parasitic surveillance-state tech industrial complex doesn't think that as they receive corporate handouts/welfare from the city.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

This is probably the best thing to happen to progressives in years. For 50 minutes they felt like they caught the most important moment in the progressive revolution/uprising in decades, and then it all ended up being about some narcissistic assh*le
Which actually sums up the progressive politics in this sad little town quite well.

Where is Brian Basinger? He must have literally blew it when this happened

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

This is really not about your wild, immature, obsession and fixation with "progressives." So let's put that to rest. I have a wealthy relative and she's a conservative and she does not like what's happening to this city. A lot of people regardless of their ideology do not like what is happening to San Francisco at the moment.

This is about the haves versus the have-nots and massive wealth being in the hands of very few people. The very wealthy are intent on taking over San Francisco and making it another Tiburon or another Marin, instead of living in/MOVING TO Tiburon/Marin. We don't need two Tiburons or two Marins. One is sufficient. Leave San Francisco alone.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

There hasn't ever been that much of a difference in rental prices between mar in and sf, ever. In fact, Marin tends to be a little cheaper for the most part.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

Being that Tiburon is IN Marin?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

Yes. This is pure comedy.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

I remember the Guardian summit.

You said you would build new bridges with the tech community.


Bridge exploded!

Good job, Stevie!

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

Hello smug, perhaps they at the BG have come to realize that one does not "build bridges" with wealthy $cum---who only care about them$elve$---who want them gone out of the city.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

Oh why certainly one does not does one?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

how did this guy ruin anything?
it seemed to me he was just bringing the spoiled young techie argument to light.
which is , that it doesnt hold up. he was being super defensive, and as a 6 month long resident ,knows nothing of what sf really is.
maybe im missing something?
can someone explain why he is a detriment?
also, yes, techies arent holding a gun to landlords heads to get them to sky rocket the rents and evict people, they are instead holding wads of cash ,upfront , and sometimes twice what the asking price is.
so that argument is bunk.
these kids are ruthless, entitled brats.
the "click here , and you shall receive generation "
no idea what life was like before all this instant gratification that they are accustomed to.
back in my day, we had to walk to school through the snow, uphill , both ways, with milk cartons as shoes,,and we liked it !... rraaah... im grumpy
suck it . take your spytech toys with you back to santa clara or wherever your cubicle used to be. you're boring.

Posted by Guest go home on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

Like any techie would have the balls to do that, ha ha.

Posted by Stupid people on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

It was ascertained last month that Voyager, a spacecraft sent up in 1977, had become the first human-made object to leave the solar system. Not only were today’s leaders of the project aged 52 and 77, but the 52-year-old, Suzanne Dodd, had to coax another 77-year-old engineer, Lawrence Zottarelli, out of retirement to modify the old technology so it could store more data. It seems the young engineers, growing up in an era of unlimited storage, didn’t know how to tackle the problem.

Despite this obvious benefit of seasoned workers, the subject of ageism came up again this summer, when a survey of successful technology companies found that they were young -- very young. PayScale looked at the median age of 32 technology companies, and found that just six of them had a median age greater than 35 years old, reports the New York Times. “Eight of the companies, the study said, had median employee age of 30 or younger.” In comparison, the Times reported, the median age of the American worker was 42.3 years old.

The companies with the oldest workers? Hewlett – Packard (41), I.B.M. Global Services (38), Oracle (38), Nokia(36), Dell (37) and Sony (36). The youngest? Epic Games (26); Facebook (28); Zynga (28); Google (29); and AOL, Blizzard Entertainment, InfoSys, and Monster.com (all 30). Notes the Times, “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only shoe stores and restaurants have workers with a median age less than 30.”

Reuters quoted one recruiter who was told that a company was looking to hire someone “around 26.” Similarly, Zuckerberg reportedly said, "I want to stress the importance of being young and technical. Young people are just smarter. Why are most chess masters under 30?" (Though, notes the San Francisco Chronicle, this isn’t accurate: “Viswanathan Anand, last year's world chess champion, who will be defending his crown in November, is 43 years old.”)

The article is at:

search engine: Why the Tech Industry Needs to Deal With Its Ageism Problem

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

I don't understand why people think tech workers are responsible for evictions. Doesn't Ellis Act-ing out a tenant require that the unit be taken off the rental market? So these apartments/flats are being sold to people who will live in them and not rented out to young, recently arrived Google employees - correct?

Also, if being a landlord is as evil as a lot of you seem to think, shouldn't the fact that more landlords are getting out of that business and people are living in homes they own rather using them as income-generating investments be a good thing?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

I don't understand why people hate Google and their employees just because they are destroying san /francisco?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 12:01 am

Besides biking through Europe, Max likes to hang out in Central America.


Posted by racer さ on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 12:05 am

Yup, not your every day Google employee indeed.

Posted by Usual Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 11:47 am

Just you wait...when these hated "tech" people start voting, they're going to administer a nice big pimp slap to your leftist asses , and you will feel the pain, and you will not like it.

Just remember - focus your attacks on workers at tech companies, not landlords and the out of town (and now out of country) owners of big properties. That's going to solve all your fucking problems.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 4:05 am

From all I've read from credible sources about the techbots, they are mostly politically apathetic. So they are not likely to vote. I really think they're too busy squinting at their gadget screen 24/7 to care about anything other than that. Based on your comment, you would seem to be connected with the Real Estate Industrial Complex and their corrupt liars.

The rest of your comment is equally ludicrous.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 6:25 am

Lost in the commotion over Alper's impersonation of a Google worker has been Google's silence on the matter. Does the company feel Alper misrepresented their views on the protestors' concerns? They may claim since Alper was not a real Google employee, they have no need to respond. Yet people don't take the drastic step of blockading a company commuter bus on a whim. That Google hasn't refuted the position dramatized by Alper (and the snark delivered by actual Google employees towards Dreyer) indicates that Google and its personnel have little interest in curbing or mitigating the harm caused by tech company gentrification of the Mission.

Posted by Peter on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 9:18 am

Say someone wildly accuses you of something you think has no grounds. What do you do: respond and give an occasion to the crazy guy to rant again, or just let it slide and stay silent?

I think Google is right not to be sucked into this activist-created issue. They're born angry anyway.

Posted by Usual Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 10:13 am

"That Google hasn't refuted the position dramatized by Alper"

I believe that the SFBG staff are actually space aliens here on Earth to secretly seize our supplies of castor oil!

If the SFBG doesn't refute my position, it must be true!

Posted by racer さ on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 10:24 am

Sure, those people do things on a whim all the time. Nice to see them shooting themselves in the foot so well though.

Progressives are the worst thing for progressive ideas. They are rally surprisingly like tea party republicans, only lack the ability to see themselves clearly.

The casual bigotry progressives spout is like something from Alabama in the bad days. It's actually amazing, in addition to being horrifying.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 9:30 am


its the number on his shitty dogs collar.

been busy since I found it.


Fuck this red fat faggot. Another college trust fund sucker pretending to be a poor revolutionary

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 9:41 am

An idea should sell itself on its own merits, not on lies.

Shame on the SFBG for the ramp up to this mess, the coverage and the failed damage control.

Posted by Usual Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 10:09 am

The funny thing is that the SFBG fell for this hook, line, and sinker because they think Google employees actually look and talk like that.

Perhaps if they talked to actual Google employees they would not be so easily gulled...

Posted by racer さ on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 10:25 am
Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 10:50 am

Nobody forces you to come here, unless you're being paid to troll here.

There are thousands of other sites you and others can go to since you don't like this one. When may we expect you to leave?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

LOL. Why do you think I dislike this site - it provides vast amusement.

It's not every day a little weekly becomes an international laughing stock:


Posted by racer さ on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

The rampant lefties here genuinely but falsely believe that they can change the world.

I am just here for the hilarity.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

For me the best part is how they think they are SOOOOO important in the political and financial arenas that Republicans, Ed Lee, Rose Pak, Google, "the Real Estate Industrial Complex", "Downtown Interests", the Illuminati, the CIA, etc. actually pay people to come onto this site to disagree with the progressive line. They can't fathom that people find their idiocy hilarious and it's a riot watching them lose their shit when people blow holes the size of a train through their arguments.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

One problem with activists in the SF Area:

1 - They are eager to act and provoke change
2 - They moved here so that they would be surrounded with like-minded people

Now, there's a bit of cognitive dissonance in these actions.

The SF Area is already pretty much liberal and progressive: Renter protection, homeless activism, safe haven for the undocumented, healthy SF, etc, etc...

SF as a city that votes 80%+ DNC does not really need to change to become more progressive, which means activists have become "rebels without a cause" who will protest anything and everything under the sun.

Exhibit A: The Fake Google Guy

Posted by Usual Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 10:26 am

Many activists also have an absurd competition amongst themselves to prove who is most radical.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

others. Have you ever noticed that activists never listen to the people to discover what they want?

No, instead they try and tell the people what they should want.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

WRONG. A corporati$t lobbyi$t is someone who seeks to impose their view on others by bribing corporati$t D and R politician$ who receive major $$$$$ for their votes. Have you ever noticed that corporatist lobbyists never listen to the people to discover what they want? Because they don't care what the people want. They only want what they and their corporation(s) want.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

corporation throwing money at an election and an individual throwing effort at an election?

Good. Because that is exactly why SCOTUS ruled as they did on Citizens United.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

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