Google is annoyed with policymakers.
The company issued new community guidelines Thursday that address what employees of the company might say. Under the new rules, "interrupting the workday for a heated policy debate or breaking news" does not "build a community" and therefore employees should "avoid conversations that are disruptive to the workplace or otherwise disrupt Google's workplace."
"It is our primary responsibility to do the work that we were each hired to work for, rather than to devote hours to debate on topics that do not work," the guidelines stated.
Recode reports that Google emailed to employees Thursday night in which CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the revised guidelines.
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A Google spokesman told Gizmodo that the community guidelines would apply to corporate mailing lists as well as any internal calls.
Asked how Google would determine whether a political debate qualifies as "stormy" or "disruptive," a spokesman told Gizmodo that the community management team would have to evaluate it. Community moderators will be tasked with watching the conversations in the group forums and "interfering and redirecting the conversation, or in some cases excluding or deleting the topic altogether," according to the spokesman. The community management team usually tries to train workers before disciplining them.
The company is also creating a "central tagging tool" that will allow workers to post comments.
The guidelines show a strong shift from the "open communication culture" that Google was known for. But this culture has been increasingly causing problems for Google over the last few years. Separate discussions within the company first came to light in August 2017 with a memorandum from then Google employee James Damore. But in most accounts this kind of internal disagreement is limited.
Google is also increasingly facing political pressure as President Donald Trump raises unfounded allegations of anti-conservative bias and censorship, and Senators Josh Howley and Ted Cruz are a grilled company for their content-moderating practices.
Guides also say that Googlers may "raise concerns and respect to question and discuss the company's activities." But he advises caution.
"Remember to speak with good information," the instructions say. "Don't assume you have the full story, and be careful not to make false or misleading claims about Google products or business that could undermine confidence in our products and the work we do."
A sinister warning seems deals with employee activism following recent protests against Google's involvement in a Pentagon drone program, the company's work on a censured search engine in China, and mismanagement of sexual harassment and the fall of the company.
The cooling effect that this will have in all areas of Google must be obvious. An employee may be afraid to come up with an idea of a product that would make the world a better place because the issue he addresses is political. And if workers continue to discuss political issues, they will do so at the risk of confronting their manager's subjective perception of the term "raging". But at least Donald Trump will be glad to see the company squeeze his knees a bit as he picks up his attacks.