Aug 24, 2019

Google curbs politics at work with new guidelines

Photo: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

Google has released new protocol to curb employee "discussion of politics and other topics not related to work," in an attempt to avoid disruption, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters, per the WSJ: This is a meaningful change for Alphabet Inc. — Google's parent company — which previously touted its support for open communication and debate. "The tech titan helped pioneer the Silicon Valley idea of the workplace as a college-like campus." However rebellions were rising over issues like pursuit of government contracts.

What they're saying:

  • "Google said it would appoint employees to moderate the company’s famously raucous internal message board ... acknowledging that the discussions have spiraled out of control."
  • Google said in a public memo: "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."
  • A company spokesperson said: “This follows a year of increased incivility on our internal platforms, and we’ve heard that employees want clearer rules of the road on what’s OK to say and what’s not.”

Reality check: Google's new guidelines don’t ban political conversations at the office outright, but specify that supervisors must manage upsetting or distracting topics.

Flashback: In November, groups of Google employees walked out globally to protest how the company handled accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

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Report: States line up for Google antitrust probe

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Attorneys general representing a majority of U.S. states plan to announce an antitrust investigation into Google, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: Google is under fire from Republicans for alleged bias against conservatives and from Democrats for privacy violations and extremism on Google-owned YouTube. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have both begun broad antitrust investigations of Google and other large tech firms.

Go deeperArrowSep 3, 2019

New Google rules aim to boost original reporting in search results

Photo by Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Google said Thursday that it has recently adjusted its algorithms and the guidelines used by the people that rate its search results to elevate original reporting.

Why it matters: The moves aim to provide an incentive for news organizations to focus on fresh reporting as opposed to quick aggregation of other news reports.

Go deeperArrowSep 12, 2019

Big Tech's moral compass remains glitchy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than 2 years after Susan Fowler's account of sexual harassment at Uber kicked off a wave of reckoning inside tech companies, the industry is still more reactive than forward-looking in handling the ethical issues raised by sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: By waiting for media exposure before taking principled action against sexual harassment and related misdeeds, some tech leaders are still sending a message of "get away with it as long as you can" rather than "do what's right."

Go deeperArrowSep 9, 2019