Google's internal community guidelines discourage political discussions

New community guidelines remind Googlers that they are responsible for their words.

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Today, Google released a new set of community guidelines that bans political discussions inside the company and reminds Googlers that they are responsible for their words and will be held accountable for them. The policy change appears to be an attempt to avoid the controversies that have sprung up amongst employees, but it could be seen as a way to curb employee outcry over Google's policies.

As you may remember, a couple years ago an anti-diversity screed infuriated Googlers when it argued that Google should drop attempts to include different cultures and genders. More recently, Google has faced controversy over its warning that employees who protest the company at Pride must do so in their personal capacity, and it's been charged with a retaliation culture. "Don't assume you have the full story," the guidelines caution employees.

The guidelines include "key things to remember":

  • Be responsible. What you say and do matters. You're responsible for your words and actions and you'll be held accountable for them.
  • Be helpful. Your voice is your contribution — make it productive.
  • Be thoughtful. Your statements can be attributed to Google regardless of your intent, and you should be thoughtful about making statements that could cause others to make incorrect assumptions.

The guidelines instruct Googlers to "avoid controversies that are disruptive to the workplace" and that make fellow employees feel like they don't belong. "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 guidelines read. As a final note, the guidelines point out that, due to local laws, Googlers may discuss pay, hours, other work terms or conditions and violation of laws.

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