GOOGLE WANTS its employees to be evil. Well, alright that's probably oversimplifying it but it has raised eyebrows by removing the legendary clause "don't be evil" from most clauses of its Code of Conduct.
As one of the most famous lines of any terms and conditions of any company in history, it wasn't going to take long for people to notice that the promise not to take over the world had disappeared.
It seems that some time at the end of last month or the beginning of this one, the latest revision to the Code of Conduct, by which all Google employees are expected to abide, was uploaded.
There's always been a bit of debate about what constitutes 'evil' in Google's eyes given some of its decisions so it's not a huge shock that this is a shock (if you see what we mean).
Ex-Googler and Yahoo borker Marissa Mayer even once said "It really wasn't like an elected, ordained motto".
Alphabet, the shell company created to house Google and other unrelated projects such as Waymo, never used the phrase, though they have something similar, but Google has always stuck to the idea that not being evil is worth mentioning. Heck, it's even been the wifi password for shuttles to Google Campus.
Now spot the difference. Here's the old code:
"Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users. But "Don't be evil" is much more than that. Yes, it's about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it's also about doing the right thing more generally - following the law, acting honorably, and treating co-workers with courtesy and respect."
Now, here's the new one:
"The Google Code of Conduct is one of the ways we put Google's values into practice. It's built around the recognition that everything we do in connection with our work at Google will be, and should be, measured against the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct. We set the bar that high for practical as well as aspirational reasons: Our commitment to the highest standards helps us hire great people, build great products, and attract loyal users. Respect for our users, for the opportunity, and for each other are foundational to our success, and are something we need to support every day."
Here's the weird thing, though. The date of updating for both versions is 5 April - something we know not to be true, though we suspect (as your ever non-conspiratorial INQUIRER) that it could be an oversight.
There is one remaining mention of don't be evil. It's right at the bottom: "And remember… don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right - speak up!"
This could be deliberate, or it could be an oversight. We know how it is when you get to the bottom of a document you are proofreading. You sometimes just tune out.
So, is evil now tolerated at Google? Of course not. Apart from anything else, it's an unquantifiable definition and that doesn't really stand up in court anyway. µ
The week in Google
The scandal that just keeps giving
Clip to the end....