Organizing against your employer is hard, but Google workers have taken up the charge for years. After embracing dissenting views and outspokenness from its employees for so long, it seems as though Google may be growing tired of internal protests.
Recently, Google updated its guidelines to warn employees against holding political debates and improperly disclosing company information. A section of the new guidelines say:
“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. Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”
The guidelines also urged employees to respect their fellow “Googlers.”
“Don’t troll, name call, or engage in ad hominem attacks,” the new guidelines went on to add. “Be respectful in your comments about (and to) your fellow Googlers.”
These new guidelines come less than two weeks after Google employees published an open letter calling on the company to not support the funding, infrastructure, or engineering resources of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or the Office of Refugee Resettlement, abusing human rights.
It’s not the first time Google employees have called upon the company to divest from federal partnerships. In 2018, employees learned that Google signed onto Project Maven to develop drone warfare for the Pentagon. Employees responded strongly even back then.
“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” thousands of employees wrote in a letter of protest.
This year, employees protested Google’s involvement with Project Dragonfly, which had intentions of developing a search engine complying with China’s censorship. In July, Google said the project had been terminated.
In the past, Google employees have accused the company of retaliation after protests, so wariness around the guidelines is not a surprise. Although Google told The Verge that its guidelines aren’t intended to stifle employee activism, former employees disagree.
“Following years of organizing inside Google, the bosses are trying to stop workers from discussing workplace issues,” one former employee told the outlet. “The idea that discussion over whether Google does business with CBP and ICE is not related to their work is preposterous.”