Microsoft and Amazon Web Services executives are bailing on this tech conference after the organizer was accused of using fake female panelists

  • A tech conference organizer was accused of listing fake female panelists on his event website.

  • Eduards Sizovs said two panelists had dropped out earlier while the last one was a placeholder.

  • He also apologized and said it was a bad administration slip-up on his part.

An online software development conference has come under fire after its organizers were accused of listing fake female panelists on its website.

The DevTernity Conference was slated to run from 7 to 8 December, and featured speakers from Microsoft and Amazon Web Services. According to the event website, tickets have been sold out.

Gergely Orosz, author of the tech-focused newsletter "The Pragmatic Engineer" pointed out the fake speaker profiles in a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter, on November 25.

"If you bought tickets to DevTernity ("DevTernity") on 7-8 Dec you've been duped with fake speaker Anna Boyle who is still on the website," Orosz wrote. "A made up profile, AI image, no such staff eng at Coinbase."

The conference's founder, Eduards Sizovs responded to Orosz's accusations on X in the same day. Sizovs apologized for the confusion caused. He also explained the origins of the three fake female profiles.

According to Sizovs, he secured the participation of two female panelists, but both eventually withdrew their participation. Sizovs admitted that he had left both speaker profiles up on the website while he continued searching for replacement speakers.

As for the last profile, Sizovs said that it was a "demo persona" that was "auto-generated, with a random title, random Twitter handle, random picture." The profile has since been removed.

Sizovs said that the profiles weren't an attempt at bolstering the event's diversity but were a bad administration slip-up on his part.

"I noticed the issue in October, but my busy mind suggested delaying the fix until we finalize the program because 1) it was not a quick fix 2) it's better to have that demo persona while I am searching for the replacement speakers, 3) and the persona isn't part of the schedule anyway," Sizovs wrote on X.

"So it can wait, no harm, only good intentions," he continued.

But it seems like this "issue" might already be hurting Sizovs.

Nearly half of the 23 speakers listed on the conference website have dropped out, according to a report from Bloomberg on Monday.

Kristine Howard, an executive at Amazon Web Services, confirmed with Bloomberg via email that she pulled out from the event.

"This whole conference debacle is so disappointing. Speakers like myself, when invited to a conf will immediately say 'who alls gonna be there?'" Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft executive who pulled out from the event, wrote on X.

"I've my rules for participation posted on my site - including an inclusive lineup - for years. I was duped by the fake speakers also," he continued.

On Tuesday, Sizovs told Business Insider via email that he was canceling the conference.

"All resources will be updated as soon as wrongdoers stop attempting to hack / brute-force / social-engineer our resources, including websites, social media profiles, and emails, which makes the situation worse," Sizovs wrote in his email.

"It's now obvious that someone wanted to intentionally damage the conference," he continued, adding that he would be issuing a public statement on his blog.

November 28, 3:49 a.m. — This story has been updated with comments from Eduards Sizovs.

Read the original article on Business Insider