Report: Google’s ‘Respectful Code’ Policy Censors Politically Incorrect Terms

Sundar Pichai
Eric Risberg/AP

A new report suggests that Google will adopt a “respectful code” policy that will eliminate politically incorrect terms used at the company in its programming. The new policy bans common programming terminology like “master and slave,” widely found in both software and hardware, to fight the “harmful effects of bias and discrimination.”

According to a report by The Daily Caller, Google is aggressively working to censor speech inside the company and possibly on its internet services. A new policy called the “respectful code” will ban words and phrases that officials at Google’s diversity and inclusion office have deemed offensive.

Leaked documents suggest that the new code was created to combat bias and discrimination in society. Google feels that implementing the “respectful code” is their way of contributing to the fight against hatred and bigotry in society.

“At Google, inclusivity is central to our mission and our culture, and our values include treating each other with dignity,” the Google document reads. “As such, it’s important that everyone can do their work without facing the harmful effects of bias and discrimination. However, terms in our codebase, Uls, and documentation can perpetuate that discrimination. This documentation sets forth guidance which aims to address disrespectful terminology in code and documentation before they go into production.”

Google officials are currently compiling a list of words that are “actively causing harm and disrespect” to employees at the company. These words will serve as the foundation for Google “respectful code,” a set of guidelines that will seemingly be first implemented as an internal company policy.

The leaked document suggests that the “respectful code” has no little guidelines or rules. At this point, censored words are chosen at the discretion of Google officials. For example, the words “master” / “slave” have long been used innocuously in computer programming. Now, Google has decided that those terms will no longer be used.

There is no official procedure right now. The baseline is that “master”/“slave” should definitely change (it is explicitly called out in the policy doc), but other terms in “ongoing cleanup” have enough people in agreement they should be changed that cleanup work is actively happening. The guidance from the policy doc is to use your judgement, and ask your project/organization’s D&I [diversity and inclusion] team.

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