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Google removes ‘Don’t Be Evil’ motto from its Code of Conduct

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Is Google chill with being evil?
Is Google chill with being evil?

Image:  Iain Masterto/getty images

To be evil or not to be evil — that is the question, Google.

It seems after years of the tech company’s commitment to its low-key creepy-sounding mantra, “Don’t Be Evil,” Google has removed the phrase from its Code of Conduct.

So I guess that means evil is totally chill now?? Cool. Very cool and not at all concerning, right?

On Friday, Gizmodo noted that “Don’t Be Evil,” which has been part of Google’s Code of Conduct since 2000, was recently removed in either April or May, as shown by the Wayback Machine. 

Digging into the Wayback Machine’s April 21, 2018 archive shows the three-word phrase still present in an earlier Code of Conduct:

“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.

The Code of Conduct, which appears to have been last updated Oct. 12, 2017, also ended with the line, “…And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up!”

But the beginning “Don’t Be Evil” phrases aren’t present in the May 4, 2018 Wayback archive of the Code of Conduct, which appears to have been updated April 5, 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.

Is Google finally moving over to the Evil side? Mashable reached out to the company to check in.

It should, however, be noted that the final line in the Code: “And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up!” still remains. So perhaps the company is simply toning the message down.

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