One of Google's unofficial mottos since 2001 was encapsulated in three simple words, "Don't be evil" and now, they have dropped the phrase from their official corporate code of conduct. The phrase was removed in April or early May and has left many feeling a bit apprehensive about what this could mean.
Those familiar with Google's motto will know that in 2015 when the company was restructured under the parent corporation Alphabet, the phrase itself was changed from "don't be evil" to "do the right thing" in the code of conduct that was handed out to employees. However the phrase still remained in its language, notes a report by Gizmodo till a few weeks back.
The phrase is something that has always been part of the culture at the tech giant. An excerpt from the company's code of conduct archived by the Wayback Machine on April 21 reads- "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."
The report points out that the most recent archive from May 4 does not have this subsection. In fact, there is no mention of it. While the message itself is fairly similar, "Don't be evil" was not mentioned throughout the document. A similar passage from the current code 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.
Throughout the document, there is reportedly only one mention of the phrase and it comes at the very end where the code of conduct ends with the line: "And remember... don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right – speak up!" The entire document is available online for those who are interested in reading it.
As to what happens now, one would not be wrong in assuming that Google is not going to simply stop what it is they are doing and become "evil" because of this change. A report by Quartz, pointed out that the company's policies haven't really changed, only that the language is a lot more "boilerplate corporate jargon".