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Twitter apologizes for throwing frat-themed party at headquarters

The social network says the event was organized by one team at the company and was done "in poor taste."

Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. The company says a frat house-themed party held there was "not reflective of the culture we are building here at Twitter." James Martin/CNET

Welcome to the Twitter Frat House?

The social network apologized Wednesday after recently hosting a fraternity-themed party at its San Francisco headquarters. Photos of the party emerged on social media Tuesday night and included a picture tweeted by Global Tech Women, an online advocacy group.

The tweet shows a photo of a pyramid of red plastic cups, a keg, a table apparently set up for the game "beer pong" and a sign that reads "Twitter Frat House" in Greek-like lettering. "@Twitter is having a frat party for employees. #Lovewhereyouwork, #diversitymatters #brogrammers," the tweet said.

"This social event organized by one team was in poor taste at best, and not reflective of the culture we are building here at Twitter. We've had discussions internally with the organizing team, and they recognize that this theme was ill-chosen," Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser said in a statement Wednesday. Prosser declined to say when the party took place and which team threw it, but the website Fusion reports the party was for the company's revenue team.

The "ill-chosen" frat-themed party occurs at a time when terms like "brogrammer" have been flying around to describe a perceived frat boy-like sexism in some areas of tech. Diversity has become a major issue in technology, with Twitter and other companies pledging to make their male-dominated workforces more inclusive. Tech companies are on average about 70 percent male and white, according to the most recent self-reported statistics from Twitter, Apple, Facebook and Google. The Twitter party fallout also comes as the microblogging site is being sued for gender discrimination by an ex-employee.

Lawyers for Tina Huang, who worked at Twitter as a software engineer from 2009 to 2014, filed the suit in March. It accuses the company of using a "subjective, secretive promotion process" that favors men. Huang's suit claims there were at least 50 other women who were similarly affected by Twitter's policies.

Also in March, ex-Facebook staffer Chia Hong filed a lawsuit against her former employer, saying Facebook fired her after she complained about being discriminated against and harassed because of her gender and Taiwanese descent. Hong worked at Facebook from 2010 to 2013.

Both Twitter and Facebook have denied the allegations in their respective lawsuits.

Those suits also came during the same month Ellen Pao lost her high-profile gender discrimination suit against storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. A San Francisco jury rejected Pao's claim of discrimination and retaliation over her 2012 firing from the firm.

Pao, who joined the community-curated news site Reddit a year later, resigned as its interim CEO on July 10.