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Google doesn’t want staff debating politics at work anymore

Aug 23 2019 17:11
Gerrit De Vynck

Alphabet’s Google posted new internal rules that discourage employees from debating politics, a shift away from the internet giant’s famously open culture.

The new “community guidelines” tell employees not to have “disruptive” conversations and warn workers that they’ll be held responsible for whatever they say at the office. The company is also building a tool to let employees flag problematic posts and creating a team of moderators to monitor conversations, a Google spokeswoman said.

“While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not,” the new policy states. “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do.”

Google has long encouraged employees to question each other and push back against managers when they think they’re making the wrong decision. Google’s founders point to the open culture as instrumental to the success they’ve had revolutionizing the tech landscape over the last two decades.

But the free-wheeling culture has led to a rash of problems for Google management in recent years. Progressive employees have used internal chat boards to rally other workers against some Google projects, helping push the company to end work on a search engine for the Chinese market and an image-recognition AI system for the U.S. military. A handful of conservative employees have been accused of using internal systems to harass co-workers they deem too liberal.

The new policy says “don’t troll, name call, or engage in ad hominem attacks-about anyone.”

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