Google has removed longtime motto “Don’t Be Evil” from its corporate code of conduct leading some to wonder if shareholder value alone has won the day.
The phrase, which was reportedly removed in late April or early May, has been part of the company’s corporate code since 2000.
In 2015, Google slightly modified its motto to “do the right thing” after the search engine was reorganized under new parent company Alphabet. However, the original motto remained so deeply ingrained in the company culture that it was used as a wifi password on shuttles that Google used to transport employees to public transportation hubs, sources told Gizmodo.
According to the Wayback Machine, a digital archive of information on the internet created by nonprofit organization Internet Archive, Google’s previous code of conduct from April 21, 2018 read — in part — “‘Don’t be evil.’ Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users.”
The archived Google code of conduct continued it’s self-explanatory tone with a deeper description of corporate policy: “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 previous code also detailed business ethics for the internet giant: “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.”
According to an updated version of the code archived by the Wayback Machine on May 4, 2018, there is no mention of the “Don’t Be Evil” motto.
The new code simply reads: “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.”
Statements from Google assert that its corporate code of conduct has not been updated since April 5, 2018, however, leading to some confusion.