Google is tired of employees voicing political opinions.
On Thursday, the company has issued new guidelines for the community that address what employees are allowed to say in the company. Under the new rules, "disrupt the working day to have a furious debate about politics or the latest news," does not "build" the community, and employees should "avoid disruptive conversations for the workplace or otherwise violate Google's workplace . "Guidelines"
"Our primary responsibility is to do the work we each have been hired to not spend working hours debating non-work topics," the guidelines state.
Recode reports that Google sent out an email Employee Mail Thursday evening where CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the revised guidelines.
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A Google spokesperson told Gizmodo that the Community Guidelines will apply to company listings, as well as all internal conversations.
When asked how Google will determine whether a political debate qualifies as "furious" or "disruptive," Gizmodo's spokesperson said community management would have to consider this. Community moderators will be tasked with monitoring conversations in group forums and will "intervene and redirect the conversation or in some cases turn off or delete the thread altogether," according to the spokesperson. The community management will usually try to educate workers before disciplining them.
The company also creates a "central flag tool" that allows workers to report comments.
The guidelines show a strong shift from the "open communication culture" that Google used to be known for. But that culture has increasingly caused problems for Google over the last couple of years. Sharing discussions within the company first came to light in August 2017 with then-Google employee James Damore's anti-diversity memo. But according to most reports, this kind of internal disagreement is limited.
Google has also been increasingly subject to political pressure as President Donald Trump praises unfounded accusations of anti-conservative bias and censorship, and Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz have "grilled" that company about their content moderation practices.
The guidelines also state that Googlers can "raise concerns and respect and discuss the company's activities with respect." But caution is advised in doing so.
"Remember to talk to good information," the guidelines say. "Don't assume you have the whole story, and be careful not to make false or misleading statements about Google's products or business that could undermine trust in our products and the work we do."
The ominous warning appears to address employee activism, in the wake of recent protests against Google's involvement in a Pentagon AI drone program, the company's work on a censored search engine for China, and the company's malpractice on sexual harassment and abuse cases.
The cooling effect this will have on all areas of Google should be obvious. An employee may be afraid to come up with an idea for a product that will make the world a better place because the problem it addresses is political. And if workers continue to discuss political issues, they will do so at risk of falling from the manager's subjective view of the term "races." But at least Donald Trump would like to see the company bend its knees a little while ramping up the attacks.