Google wants more self-censorship in internal message boards. According to the company, there has been a rise in “questionable” content on the message boards due to the “tough global conversations” surrounding race and the pandemic.
In 2019, Google launched a policy restricting discussions on politics in internal messaging boards. The policy was criticized by some employees who claimed the restrictions were too broad.
According to a blog post by the company’s internal community management, there has been an increase in “abusive” posts in message boards. They believe the cause is a combination of increased engagement since Googlers have to work from home and the “tough global conversation.”
Therefore, the company is adding stricter rules to the 2019 policy on internal political discussions. Admins of discussion groups will be required to act as moderators and even go through compulsory moderation training.
Additionally, they will have to define their group’s purpose and ensure conversations in the groups are in line with the group’s purpose, and they stay inclusive.
“Our world is going to get more complicated as the year continues,” the internal blog reads. “Tensions continue specifically for our Black+ community with Black Lives Matter, and our Asian
Googlers with coronavirus and China/Hong Kong. All of this is compounded by the additional stress of working from home, social isolation, and caregiver responsibilities — to name a few. This new world creates urgency to keep work a welcoming place.”
The blog referred to controversial conversations on Memegen, its internal meme generator, and Dory, the questions suggestion platform used for live meetings and events.
The internal community management team conducted a survey that found out that about 50% of employees find Memegen “rarely respectful.”
“While the vast majority of content shared on our platforms is perfectly fine, more flags have been submitted on Dory and Memegen in 1H 2020 than all of 2019,” the team said in the blog.
They continued to say that most flags were in the “Harassment/Discrimination” category.
“It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that there has been content on our platforms that reinforce negative racial stereotypes, used harmful gendered phrases, or insulted Googlers based on their nationality.”
The stricter moderation rules will roll out “slowly and intentionally.”
Google says it hopes to find the right balance between the “open culture” and “putting safeguards that keep our communities welcoming to all kinds of Googlers,” – but if the recent past is anything to go by, they’ll be leaning towards the latter.