back to article Google bans politics, aka embarrassing stuff that gets leaked, from internal message boards

Google may be lax in policing policy violating videos on YouTube, but at least it's adding oversight where it's needed – to mute overly opinionated employees. The ad biz, having weathered employee walkouts over payouts to execs accused of sexual harassment, protests over a censor-friendly search engine for China and US …

  1. cornetman Bronze badge

    I wonder where James Damore's letter would stand in this new "utopia".

    His initial letter was related to actual published Google policies and stated agendas.

    If these company policies related directly to aspects of employment at Google, then presumably, he would not be barred from discussing them.

    But then he was fired because of the feminist uproar that ensued rather than any factual errors in the memo....

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      ... then again one might reasonably expect that, in a well-managed company, the conditions that led to a feminist uproar, or any similar reaction, wouldn't arise.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Read any feminist article (the Guardian or Vox are easy pickings) and then consider your use of the words "reasonably expect" and "conditions that led a a feminist uproar."

        Women are reasonable - Feminists, not so much.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          How true.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS37SNYjg8w

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Browser bug, need tech support?

            I’m not sure what might be going wrong, the address bar of my browser seems to say theregister, but the browser seems to be displaying obnoxious, boring content from reddit instead? I’ve seen this happen on other register stories recently, so maybe something is going wrong with the site rather than my browser?

            Any help to fix this issue so I can see more nuanced discussions would be warmly welcomed.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Browser bug, need tech support?

              I’m not sure what might be going wrong, the address bar of my browser seems to say theregister, but the browser seems to be displaying obnoxious, boring content from reddit instead?

              Well that certainly seems odd. Have you tried to reformat your OS and checked whether or not the fonts been installed correctly? or Maybe try getting a RGB display monitor?

              The red subtitle named Policy near the main title seems pretty clear to me.

              /s

        2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

          Feminists tend to be radical... or maybe not?

          Most feminists are reasonable, but the ones that get attention tend not to.

          Why? well, shock value... a radical tends to be more newsworthy than a reasonable person.

          This wouldn´t be a problem if these shouty ppl in general (not just alleged feminists) got heard and effectively had a disproportionate effect on policy and law.

          Also, as they are retweeted/republished everywhere, they tend to steal the movements from within and gain plenty of power.

          This is not something new, look at some extremist movements in the 30s.. it is just that now the cost of doing so is much much lower, and the speed much much faster.

          I don´t have a good solution for this, at least not one I would like to see implemented.. any ideas?

  2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Targeted enforcement

    This will be used a a way to force out the wrong thinkers, as apparently, they have been slow to get the hint.

  3. Paper
    Big Brother

    Good

    Good, all companies should follow suit. You are there TO WORK. Not to discuss how terrible it is being a white well educated hipster with a dog, great apartment and awesome wage!

  4. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Interesting precedent

    You would assume that, on the whole, Google employees would be better behaved than your average Twitter troll, not least because their posts and emails are presumably identified and ultimately their job is on the line.

    If, despite that, Google feels it needs internal communication moderators to oversee internal forums and mailing list to protect itselfits workers, it's going to be pretty hard to argue that it doesn't need to do more to police its public-facing properties.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Interesting precedent

      I think they just want to wash their hands of any possible controversy by making employees only want to use the internal discussion boards to discuss work matters.

      This seems like a pretty reasonable stance for ANY company to take. Why should a company provide resources for employees to discuss things that are only going to result in a few people getting heated and saying things that will ultimately give more work for HR to do, and legal decisions about "should we fire this guy for making what appears to be a threat, or will he be able to argue it wasn't really a threat and sue us for unfair dismissal".

      If employees want to talk politics with each other, let them do it at the bar down the road from the office over happy hour, and then it isn't Google's problem what they say to each other. If someone complains about what a fellow employee said to them, you can tell them it didn't happen on Google property while you were working so it is a legal matter for the police or your attorney.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting precedent

        And of course they won't ever use this for suppressing any internal criticism..

        "Don't be evil", amiright?

        :^)

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Interesting precedent

        This seems like a pretty reasonable stance for ANY company to take

        Assuming it is reasonable (that's a different argument), it doesn't explain why they apparently have concluded that they need active moderation and that "I hereby order" isn't sufficient to deter keyboard incontinence in an environment in which they own the equipment and make the rules.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          They may own the equipment and make the rules, but apparently everyone has missed one little detail : the law says that no employer can order employees to refrain from discussing any specific subject at all.

          On top of that, Google has so many fingers in so many pies that just about anything is work-related.

          Including discussions about censorship.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            All true, in law, but they might well be able to stop mis-use of Google owned equipment or private, non-work related discussions during work time that is delaying the paid-for work the employees should be doing. What the employees discuss during breaks is fully protected of course.

          2. DougS Silver badge

            but apparently everyone has missed one little detail : the law says that no employer can order employees to refrain from discussing any specific subject at all

            They certainly can on an internal forum. They can have a few topics created like many online forums do, not include forums for politics and religion, and not allow off topic conversations. If they apply "off topic" equally in a forum about say 'local child care providers' then bringing up either Trump or iPhones in that forum would be equally out of bounds.

            They can't stop employees from discussing politics at the water cooler, but they don't have provide a forum for it, any more than they have to provide use of the company auditorium for employees who want to hold a pro or anti Trump rally.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Interesting precedent

        "This seems like a pretty reasonable stance for ANY company to take."

        I agree.

        In fact, every company I've worked for (that I remember, anyway) in the last 20 years has had an overt policy of forbidding discussions of politics and religion in the office outright, so from where I sit, that's the normal and expected practice.

      4. cornetman Bronze badge

        Re: Interesting precedent

        That's fine and dandy if it also applies to your employer in relation to what you are asked to do as part of your work.

        Some easy examples come to mind:

        a) You are part of a team tasked with interviewing prospective employees but are told to be particularly favourable to a certain gender or racial group....or told, officially or otherwise, that Google has more than enough of a certain gender group or racial profile. That might be considered at best immoral, at worst illegal.

        b) You want to go on an internal course, but you are told that preference is being given to (or restricted to) a certain gender or racial group. Again, probably immoral and in many cases probably illegal.

        When your employer engages in these behaviours, then you have a moral (and possibly legal) duty to act or point out their flaws.

  5. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Kinds of dictatorship

    Google is an example of a "benevolent dictatorship" slowly turning into groupthink mental slavery. It is time for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as an earlier generation of rebels put it.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Kinds of dictatorship

      Are you surprised?

      Already turned off, tuned out and dropped activist employees (allegedly)

      ...as a less early generation of rebels put it.

      It's up for grabs which sold out for as much profit

      hemp farms remain through both.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Not much doubt

    It was pretty clear to me that google had become an aggressive nightmare organisation. This just puts the tin hat on.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Not much doubt

      Oh indeed, they've long since gone past 'don't be evil' into the corporate mentality that, as its basis, IS evil

  7. Ordinary Donkey

    Perfectly viable.

    My own political standpoint is that Boris Johnson is faking being quite as dumb as he makes out he is, and I'll deck anyone who says differently.

    I don't expect my employer to want me to voice that at work, so I don't.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Perfectly viable.

      I would agree partly. Boris is immensely intelligent, very manipulative, narcissistic, but also very thick.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perfectly viable.

      "I don't expect my employer to want me to voice that at work, so I don't"

      ... probably for the best as the "I think this and I'll deck anyone who disagrees with me" is almost exactly like one of the items in the list of the sort of statements that would be deemed as violent or threatening violence in the "conduct" section of the Employee handbook at the US based company I worked for last year!

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Perfectly viable.

        "I think this and I'll deck anyone who disagrees with me"

        Sounds like a good offer.

        Why would anyone turn down the chance for free garden improvement?

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Perfectly viable.

          "Why would anyone turn down the chance for free garden improvement?"

          Indeed, I even have the decking. If he wants to lay it for me, that would be fantastic.

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Perfectly viable.

            you need more than one two by four

            using the same one over and over again leads to a rather small garden leisure space.

  8. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for their corporate cult mentality

    Something I've noticed rising in Silicon-valley style companies is this weird cult-like culture forming. When I started my career, I had a standard 40-hour work-week, a pension, a union card, and a very balanced work-life ratio. When I left work at 5 pm, I could take off my work ID, tuck it in my pocket, and I"d be my own person until 9 am the next work day. We wouldn't talk politics or working conditions at work, but we had sufficient free time to do so after work or at our union meetings.

    A few years ago, the company was bought up by a Google-like Silicon Valley company, and the whole thing felt super creepy. All the various 'features' of the company, such as the video games, toys, alcohol, food, and so on. It felt like they were saying "You have no life of your own, we are your life now". I find myself spending 60+ hours in the office now, and being shamed for doing anything less. I find many of my coworkers already at work when I get in, and staying long after I leave for the day. I found conversations with my coworkers have shifted from non-work topics (EG, our lives outside of work) to now its all about our company, our competitors, the industry, etc. The bland walls of the office have been replaced with bright colors with quotes from the founder and corporate logos. Standard dress has gone from standard 'business casual' to shirts with the company's logos splattered all over. My title of 'Director of Information Technology' got replaced with a meaningless one that included the company's name.

    But, really, the two big things that bother me the most are that my pension has been replaced with a pile of a ridiculously volatile stock that I worry will either double immediately after I sell it or I hold on too long and it tanks. But also, the company has made it so that my union card is now just a piece of power (Less than 1% of the company is Union, so being union holds very little power). The stock thing bothers me since it means that any time we air a legitimate criticism of the company, we risk seeing our retirement just go up in smoke. Anytime we don't make our unreasonable deadlines, again our retirement gets chipped away...

    In essence, I went from a boring, but stable job to chaos and cult-like worship of the company. Ironically, I enjoyed so much more freedom and felt so much happier in my blue-ish cube in my beige office than I did in the "Chuck-e-Cheese with laptops" office I work in now. Pretty much everyone that I had worked with before the acquisition feel the same way, and not just the grey-beards like myself, but also everyone from upper management down to the interns.

    Really, we wouldn't be talking about anything controversial like politics or workplace grievances at work if we still had our other venues to do so.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for their corporate cult mentality

      Potentially rich ground for a new business in corporate deprogramming.

      Drive around in a van kidnapping wage slaves from outside corporate HQs, ferry them over to an old warehouse (that's been converted to a nice art gallery) and subjecting them to a quick round of 'you no longer work for X' and then sign them up to a Recruitment website.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for their corporate cult mentality

      Look not to be too hard on you for falling into the situation but you need to sort it out. If you're really working 60+ hours a week, then you need to demand the budget to hire a deputy and cut back to 40. You're not only destroying your own life by working 60, but you're also destroying your underlings lives. Because if you as the boss are working stupid hours, your employess are likely to feel they have to work stupid hours or be considered lazy and then they'll be fired or denied promotions/pay rises.

      The only people benefiting from your stupid hours are the rich douchebags who actually own your company. And I guarantee they are not working 60+ hour weeks.

      And if you're worried that you'll get sacked for working less than 60 hours , well two things - 1) you cant get sacked for refusing to work overtime, especially overtime that exceeds 5 hours a week. Not even in the US. 2nd, even if you do get sacked, you sound like you have the experience to get another job pretty easily. Even if it means a paycut, wouldnt you prefer to have your life back? How much is that worth to you?

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for their corporate cult mentality

      I agree with much of what you say here, and it's why I've been avoiding working for any SV-style companies for many years now. Silicon Valley is straight-up toxic.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Googley world

    On-site restaurants, kitchens, transportation, showers, haircuts, car and bike servicing, recreational areas, privacy rooms, community services, and expectations to always be available online.

    Exactly what is a workplace now?

  10. Steve Knox

    "creating a group of internal communication moderators to oversee internal forums"

    ...Wait, what? I though Google was all about the algorithm?

    Shurely they just need to point their excellent YouTube content moderation algorithm at their internal forums and it'll clean everything up perfectly.

    Right?

  11. Starace Silver badge
    Alert

    Monoculture

    They've been criticised before about fostering a Googly monoculture and it certainly looks like this will reinforce that; express the wrong thoughts on something and they'll be purged.

  12. Kernel Silver badge

    I see a problem here

    Some of the commentards above have stated that work time/resources should only be for discussing work related matters and all else should be outside work hours - this may be a fair enough view point, but the problem is that now days many companies also want to have a say on what their employees discuss on social media outside of the work environment.

    As I see it, if your employer wants to control your discussions outside work hours as well, then there is no basis on which to draw a line and say no non-work discussions during these hours.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019