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Google eliminated that ‘don’t be evil’ motto

Google Office Strada

Google is no longer telling its employees not to be evil.

In a rather surprising move (or perhaps a sign that the world’s most seemingly perk-filled, laid-back workplace is going corporate), Google has removed its unofficial motto from its code of conduct. Previously, the company’s corporate code of conduct included this simple yet powerful edict: “Don’t be evil.” But now, that’s no longer the case. As Gizmodo reports, archives from the Wayback Machine, a digital archive, show that this turn of phrase was removed sometime either in late April or early May.

For nearly two decades, “Don’t be evil” has been the Google mantra. In 2015, when Google reorganized itself to be a part of parent company Alphabet, it created a slightly different version of the mantra — “do the right thing.” But Google held on to its previous “don’t be evil” slogan until sometime in the last month or so.

This wasn’t just a phrase that employees read once in their handbooks. Rather, the notion was deeply ingrained in the company’s culture — in fact, a version of the saying apparently served as the Wi-Fi password on Google shuttles used in the Bay Area.

As of April 21, 2018, the code of conduct still kept the same phrasing. “‘Don’t be evil.’ Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users,” the code read. “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.”

Google also emphasized that its actions and the actions of its employees would and should be “measured against the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct.”

But now, the code reads a bit differently. “Don’t be evil” is gone altogether, and instead, Google writes: “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.”

Curiously enough, the company’s code of conduct says that it hasn’t been updated since April 5, 2018, which seems to be incorrect given these rather obvious changes.

The timing of the change comes at a rather interesting point in Google’s history. A number of employees have recently left the company following its controversial decision to remain involved in the Pentagon’s secret Project Maven, noting that they could no longer work for a company that did not share their values. We’ll update you with any statements from Google on the new code of conduct.

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