Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” Does Not Necessarily Imply Good Things

| Dave Hamilton's Blog

During Mac Geek Gab episode 254, Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” slogan came up in a coversation I was having with my podcasting cohort, John F. Braun. It was then that I realized this doesn’t necessarily mean what you might think.

For many people, I believe “Don’t Be Evil” is mis-interpreted as meaning “therefore we must be good.” But let’s be honest, it doesn’t mean that at ALL. It simply means let’s define what evil is, and stop just short of being that. Everything else is on the table for discussion and action.

The less we assume that Google has professed to only doing good, the better.


Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Actually, if you really want to know what “Don’t be evil” means, you could listen to a discussion with the originator of that phrase here. Here is the relevant part of the summary transcript:

Buchheit credited with the phrase “Don’t be evil.” True? Any other significance? Yes, true. Company meeting in early 2001, trying to decide on company values. Typically bland, forgettable company values. Took on a life of its own. Has a lot of value: gives everyone in the company license to question the decisions. Important process; often attitude is that it’s not your job to worry about that, it’s your job to shut up and do what you are told. Can quit, but better to question than quit. Everyone had permission, created a more thoughtful organization. One in a list, but the only one anyone remembers.

Now, do any of you think that if one person on the whole Apple campus had the license to question the war with Adobe or this 3.3.1 thing that either of those would ever have seen the light of day? Ferchrissakes, Apple employees and Adobe employees share households, just like Apple/Google and likely Adobe/Google. They send their kids to same schools, play in the same adult hockey leagues, show up at the same Jerry Brown fundraisers. Don’t be evil is about having mechanisms in place to keep the company from shooting itself in the ass, and when it does manage to do that, finding a suitable bandage.


The most concise and frankly best analyses of the DBE slogan that I’ve seen. People read too much into it. It was IMO more of a dig at Microsoft than anything else.


Don?t be evil is about having mechanisms in place ...

These mechanisms generally don’t work… and the larger the organisation the less effective they seem to be.  During my IT career I have had many discussions with ‘The Management’ about the not pulling the trigger. Eventually you end up toe-to-toe with the boss and either back down or look for another job. I don’t believe Apple is any different.

Ultimately, the Management should be held to account at the Company AGM, but as John Harvey-Jones remarked -

“It is surprising, in the welter of questions that one gets at (AGMs), how few actually relate to the performance of the company, or the decisions taken by the board in particular areas.”

He also said “there are no bad troops, only bad leaders”

Someone once said to me “being CEO doesn’t make me right - it just makes me the boss”.

So I guess a good deal of (very private) discussion has taken place in Apple on all sorts of issues, but the final decision is taken by one man and only then does it see the light of day.

Boris Gates

I thimk ” Don’t be evil” means: ” hey, you, competitor, yah you, don’t be evil! oK!?
“We, Google, will be evil for you.  We will collect your browsing habits, personal information and use it to our advantage without your permission.  We will also scan copyrighted materials and make then available without getting the copyright holder’s consent, or reimbursing them.  Oh, yeah, we will also spy on potential competitors by joining their boards, and then enter their markets, once we ace learned enough.  There are other evil things we are doing, but we can’t spill the beans on everything, esp. since everyone miss- understands our mattra….”.
.... my opinion


Boris Gates forgot to ad the slew if LYING ADVERTISEMENTS that Google accepts money for.  Lets see, for a tip of the iceberg sampling, there are the ads for:

-Acai Berry “exposed”.  Usually its be someone who lives in your very town - of all places in the huge planet we live in.

-Some local “mom” in your own town (again) has figured out the “secret” to making teeth whiter…. because “dentists dont want you to know”

-Same as above but for belly fat, joint pain, etc.

-Gotta take that “real age” test because, after all, its sooooo accurate.

-the newest of these idiot ads is the “e-cigarette” ad complete with buffoons smoking WATER VAPOR….. yea, that has to be good for ya.

-the dozens of “Obama says to ......” fill that in with Refinance your mortgage, Go back to school, etc.  You know what?  I am sick and tired of these lying ads and our lying president.

-oh, and who can forget the lying ads about getting your credit card responsibilities completely wiped out because “its not your fault!”  Uh. yea.

I dont know who are the bigger fools, Google or the people who actually believe these ads enough to click on them.  Oh, and dont give me the “without these ads the internet wouldnt be free”.  I dont know about where you are from but my Time Warner Cable monopoly ISP, who doesnt allow competition in my city, is far from free.  And, if you still think its free then it wont be for much longer with Obama in office.  Soon you will have to pay to take a piss.

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