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Masters of the Universe: Google Officially Removes ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Motto from Code of Conduct

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Robert Galbraith/UPI

Tech giant Google has officially removed the long-time company motto of “Don’t be evil” from its code of conduct.

For years Google’s unofficial company motto was “Don’t be evil,” but according to the company’s updated code of conduct, that is no longer their mantra. According to Gizmodo, Google removed the motto from their code of conduct in late April or early May. The phrase has been featured in Google documentation since 2000, making its sudden removal a worrying sign as tech companies come under greater scrutiny for their roles in users lives. This decision also seems to come shortly after a number of employees quit the company to protest a contract that Google has entered into with the U.S. government to help improve military drone software.

In 2015, Google parent company Alphabet revealed their own company motto of “Do the right thing,” a slightly more subjective take on “Don’t be evil.” But Google continued to use their phrase for quite some time, regularly featuring it in not only company documentation, but in the workplace environment in general. A version of the “Don’t be evil” phrase was even used as a WiFi password on the shuttle buses that Google employees often take to Google’s Mountain View headquarters.

An archive from the web archiving tool The Wayback Machine shows that Google featured the phrase in their code of conduct on April 21, 2018. The archived code of conduct states:

“Don’t be evil.” 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.

The Google Code of Conduct is one of the ways we put “Don’t be evil” 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. Trust and mutual respect among employees and users are the foundation of our success, and they are something we need to earn every day.

So please do read the Code, and follow both its spirit and letter, always bearing in mind that each of us has a personal responsibility to incorporate, and to encourage other Googlers to incorporate, the principles of the Code into our work. And if you have a question or ever think that one of your fellow Googlers or the company as a whole may be falling short of our commitment, don’t be silent. We want – and need – to hear from you.

However, a Wayback Machine archive from May 4 shows an updated code of conduct, which reads:

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.

So please do read the Code and Google’s values, and follow both in spirit and letter, always bearing in mind that each of us has a personal responsibility to incorporate, and to encourage other Googlers to incorporate, the principles of the Code and values into our work. And if you have a question or ever think that one of your fellow Googlers or the company as a whole may be falling short of our commitment, don’t be silent. We want – and need – to hear from you.

The updated code of conduct does contain one single reference to the original code of conduct, however. The final line of the new code of conduct reads: “And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up!”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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