‘Don’t be evil’ has practically disappeared from Google’s code of conduct

Google has updated its code of conduct to remove all but one reference to its long-held unofficial motto: “Don’t be evil”.

The phrase was removed sometime between April 21 and May 4, 2018, judging by the evidence unearthed via internet archive the Wayback Machine.

The motto “Don’t be evil” has featured prominently in Google’s corporate code of conduct since the year 2000.

Gizmodo discovered the change and points out the “don’t be evil” wording was retained even after the Alphabet revamp in 2015, when “do the right thing” became the unofficial motto.

Related: Google I/O 2018 highlights

Previously, the code of conduct read: “Don’t be evil.” Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users. But “Don’t be evil” is much more than that. Yes, it’s about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it’s also about doing the right thing more generally – following the law, acting honourably, and treating co-workers with courtesy and respect.”

The new document features just one reference to the old motto, in the very final paragraph of the code of conduct document.

“And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up!”

The subtle changes probably shouldn’t be taken as a sign Google intends to wreak evil on a vulnerable planet. The phrase has been used as a stick to beat Google with down the years. It’s a running joke at this point, whenever Google acts questionably, to reply or retweet with “Don’t be evil.”

There have been plenty of opportunities to do so lately. Earlier this month it emerged a dozen Google employees had left the company over its participation in creating AI for military drones. Basically, taking on the Skynet role.

“The strongest possible statement I could take against this was to leave,” said one employee leaving in protest.

Perhaps the company has also had a bit of a coming to Jesus moment where the words “Don’t be evil” are the minimum expectation for anyone walking the Earth?

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