Google Cracks Down on Internal Political Debates

Google has had enough of its employees debating the current political environment. 

On Friday, the company released a new set of community guidelines that reset what is and isn’t allowed when employees are at work. 

“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 company said. “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics. Avoid conversations that are disruptive to the workplace or otherwise violate Google’s workplace policies.”

Google, traditionally, has encouraged debate among its workers, but as the current political environment has become so polarized and the company has been under additional scrutiny, it opted to make the changes. 

Employees, increasingly, have said the search giant is losing touch with its “Don’t be evil” motto and have staged a series of rebellions over the past year to show their displeasure, as chronicled in Fortune by Beth Kowitt in June of this year. Among the sources of those protests were the treatment of marginalized groups of employees, and harassment and trolling of workers on the company’s internal platforms.

The company also found itself in an uncomfortable position last year when it faced substantial internal resistance to Project Dragonfly, a custom search engine for China that blocked some results. It ultimately abandoned the project.

Donald Trump has made Google an occasional target, accusing the company of “rigging” news results to reflect a political bias, a charge the company has refuted. 

“As a Googler, your comments–wherever you make them–can have a serious impact on other Googlers, yourself and our company,” the new guidelines read. “We’re all free to raise concerns and respectfully question and debate the company’s activities–that’s part of our culture. Be sure to speak with good information. Don’t assume you have the full story, and take care not to make false or misleading statements about Google’s products or business that could undermine trust in our products and the work that we do.”

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