Google To Employees: Be Nice To Each Other, Or Else

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While the controversial Google memo, first obtained and published by Gizmodo, may have shown that not everything is fine and dandy in Silicon Valley, Google’s new code of conduct shows that the company is still struggling to cultivate an appropriate environment for its employees.

Google’s new, revised code of conduct, according to Wired, follows a petition signed by over 2,000 employees, demanding a safer, friendlier work environment. According to Business Insider, which has published a part of the new guidelines, the company has officially warned its employees about behavior on internal bulletin boards.

From now on, Google employees have to be respectful to each other, avoid “blanket statements about groups of categories of people,” and steer away from ad-hominem attacks. Discrimination, harassment, doxxing, name-calling, trolling are off the table too. The portion of Google’s internal code of conduct that has been made available to the public does not mention what constitutes any of the above, so there seems to be a lot of room for speculation.

James Damore, author of the (in)famous memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of discrimination. Available in full on Scribd, the lawsuit details what Damore refers to as “Google’s ideological echo chamber.”

Damore alleged stigmatization and systematical punishment of employees opposed to Google’s employment policies, and open hostility toward conservative thought.

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As the internal document published by Business Insider states, Google’s updated code of conduct refers to both in-person and online interaction.

“If discussions or behavior do not align with our values, or are disruptive to a productive work environment, we may remove particular groups, revoke commenting, viewing, or posting privileges, and take disciplinary action as warranted,” according to the document.

If an employee’s words or actions “trigger a complaint,” Google will investigate and review the issue, the document further states. As Business Insider noted, Google will not in any way shut down its internal messaging boards, but they will now be closely moderated. Meaning, any employee who starts a discussion will be able to remove it, or delete posts.

While it remains to be seen whether the updated rules of conduct will create more in-company drama, perhaps resulting in another scandal, or simply blow over, this remains in the shadow of the so-called Project Maven, the deal through which Google is providing the Pentagon with specific AI software.

As The Verge reported earlier this month, following a petition signed by its employees, Google has promised to sever all ties with the military-industrial complex, after the expiration of the current contract.