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Google Issues New Guidelines Aimed at Checking Political Speech

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email to Google employees announcing new community guidelines that expressly discourage workers from discussing politics on Google’s internal mailing lists and forums. Some of these thousands of forums have been designated as political forums.

“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.” These new guidelines remind employees that they should be focused first on the work and “not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.” The new rules represent a big departure for Google from its former company openness, where it had a reputation for allowing and even encouraging employees to engage in debates and discuss controversial topics. Apparently, this open approach has caused problems for the company as it continues to grow and the political climate across the country becomes increasingly tense.

President Trump has made a point of targeting the company as biased against Republicans and it is being speculated that this pressure inspired the company to make changes. Now employees may not comment where it would “insult, demean, or humiliate” employees, business partners and even public figures, including the President. To enforce the new guidelines, there will be a flagging tool where employees can report each other and a new team of internal community managers will be reviewing the posts to see if they violate Google’s community standards. Employees violating the policy could face disciplinary measures.

The new guidelines do state that Google employees are still “free to raise concerns and respectfully question and debate the company’s activities” however they are not allowed to share “need-to-know” information or make false statements about Google’s business.