Google Removes 'Don't Be Evil' Clause From Its Code Of Conduct

Google's unofficial motto has long been the simple phrase "don't be evil." But that's over, according to the code of conduct that Google distributes to its employees. The phrase was removed sometime in late April or early May, archives hosted by the Wayback Machine show.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the Google I/O 2018 ConferencePhoto: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

"Don't be evil" has been part of the company's corporate code of conduct since 2000. When Google was reorganized under a new parent company, Alphabet, in 2015, Alphabet assumed a slightly adjusted version of the motto, "do the right thing." However, Google retained its original "don't be evil" language until the past several weeks.

The phrase has been deeply incorporated into Google's company culture — so much so that a version of the phrase has served as the wifi password on the shuttles that Google uses to ferry its employees to its Mountain View headquarters, sources told Gizmodo.

Here's the relevant section of the old code of conduct, as archived by the Wayback Machine on April 21, 2018:

"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.

And here's the updated version, first archived by the Wayback Machine on May 4, 2018:

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.

Despite this significant change, Google's code of conduct says it has not been updated since April 5, 2018.

The updated version of Google's code of conduct still retains one reference to the company's unofficial motto — the final line of the document is still: "And remember… don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right — speak up!"

We've reached out to Google for comment on this change and will update this story if we hear back.


Comments

    I don't know whether to laugh or shudder that one of the world's most powerful companies has to *remind* their employees not to be evil.

      Well, to be fair, Google was a far smaller company when they first used that phrase.

      And yes, all companies need to remind their employees not to be evil. Because growing to such a huge size can also lead to dehumanisation in decision making. Would you want to deal with a company that doesn't try to keep base human instinct in check?

    speak up, unless its your superiors, then its shut up!

      That's a terrible quote. Equal opportunity to voice educated opinions should be what a work place should strive for among other things.

        You've never worked in the corporate world have you?

          Actually yes, I did. I was a higher up in management. But thanks for down-voting and assuming I hadn't without engaging in a proper discussion first.

            I bet you go hard at parties.

            Was probably higher up in HR Management.

    Google Removes 'Don't Be Evil' Clause From Its Code Of Conduct

    The updated version of Google's code of conduct still retains one reference to the company's unofficial motto — the final line of the document is still: "And remember… don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right — speak up!"

    C’mon guys.

    Next up, Googles boss orders 'frikkin sharks with frikkin laserbeams attached to their heads'...

    Or angry mutated seabass, whichever your preference.

      Now you've got me thinking of the old Dumb Ass Bass flash game.

    The reason it was removed is that the concept of Evil is a subjective term that differs based on cultures, education, and can be different across even language barriers... turns out their is no word for "Evil" in the native language of lawyers.

    Lawyer: I don't understand this line "Don't be eerrr?" whats that word, is that someones name.
    Google Rep: "Evil"
    Lawyer: I don't understand.
    Google Rep: Dictionary say its an adjective of "profoundly immoral and wicked."
    Lawyer: Immooo.... rail
    Google Rep: You know being a good person, and not committing and evil deed.
    Lawyer: Oh, a deed, yeah I can draft one up you after this. Just let me cross out this imaginery word out and get finish tightening up the legal terms on your Code of Conduct first... hehe eeevvvvvoolls, I am a moo rail. Ha, leave the writing to lawyers.

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