Google is asking employees to more closely monitor internal message boards after an increase in posts flagged for racism or abuse, which it attributed to employees using the message boards more frequently as they work from home and the rise of “tough global conversations,” according to internal documents obtained by CNBC.
Google is expanding a content moderation pilot it started in 2019 which barred employees from making statements that “insult, demean, or humiliate” other employees or business partners, discouraged employees from engaging in a “raging debate over politics or the latest news story” and set other community guidelines enforced by community managers, according to CNBC.
Google now requires most of the owners of the company’s 75 discussion groups to go through moderation training and to be responsible for actively monitoring their channel to make sure the conversations are “inclusive” and aligned with the set purpose of the discussion board.
There has been an increase in conversations flagged as harassment or discrimination on Google’s Q&A tool Dory and its internal meme generator and platform Memegen, the internal community management team said in a blog post, according to CNBC.
The team said it is “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 internal community management team worked with employees to create the new moderation system and, in an internal email, according to CNBC, wrote they hope the initiative “strikes the right balance between keeping Google the open culture you expect while also putting in safeguards that keep our communities welcoming to all kinds of Googlers.”
Google did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request to comment.
“Our world is going to get more complicated as the year continues,” the team reportedly stated in the internal blog. “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.”
CEO Sundar Pichai announced last year that the company would cut back on its TGIF all-hands meeting which gave employees a weekly forum to raise issues and ask questions. In an email to employees he reportedly cited “a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF” which “has affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics.”
Google is tightening rules on internal message boards as ‘new world creates urgency’ (CNBC)
Google Shakes Up Its ‘TGIF’—and Ends Its Culture of Openness (Wired)