Google May Not Be Evil But There Are Evil Googlers

Sep 17, 2010 • 8:06 am | comments (2) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Gawker broke a story named Google Engineer Stalked Teens, Spied on Chats. I'll quote the beginning...

David Barksdale, a 27-year-old former Google engineer, repeatedly took advantage of his position as a member of an elite technical group at the company to access users' accounts, violating the privacy of at least four minors during his employment, we've learned. Barksdale met the kids through a technology group in the Seattle area while working as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google's Kirkland, Wash. office. He was fired in July 2010 after his actions were reported to the company. [Update: Google has confirmed the security breach. An update appears below.]

I bet a lot of the Googlers who read this blog know David. Google of course fired him, but many are saying Google should have turned him over to the police.

In short, a company's founders, leaders, principles may not be "evil" or whatever Google claims they are not. But when you hire so many people, even with a very detailed hiring process, some will turn out to be evil. We all know, the people who make up the company define the company.

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Gavin Smith

09/17/2010 03:45 pm

Lets face it the old 'Don't be Evil' Google has long gone. That was the unofficial mantra that Google used to run with and the mantra that they will be hit with everytime they make a business decision or a story like this comes to the fore. You can't blame Google for hiring this guy, who was to know he would turn this way in the face of such responsibility, but you can critise Google for trying to quietly deal with the issue instead of making a stand on the issue and making an example of the guy by trying to prosecute him.


09/17/2010 05:55 pm

This is exactly why I find it so ridiculous that people make sweeping statements about Google's "don't be evil" line being a hoax or a load of crap or whatever. We can come up with whatever standards that we want for our organizations, and we can encourage everyone to live up to them. Companies often do this, religions do it all the time. But choices are made by people, and it's people that are responsible for their actions. I don't know what it is about this mindset that's so easy to use, but there seem to be plenty willing to embrace it. (Absurdly enough, I'm reminded of the argument that some are currently making against building a certain house of worship in a certain location. You probably know the one I mean.) "There are people in your organization that don't live up to the ideals of your organization, so I'm going to use this as an argument against your organization as a whole!" I just can't buy into it. It's just too small-minded. To try to take the actions of individuals as say "your company's aspiration of 'do no evil' is somehow invalidated by your personal choices" me, that just sounds like people are trying to write themselves a blank check to not have to hold themselves to a standard. You know what they say...ridicule it out of others, then you'll never have to expect it from yourself. (Ok, granted, I don't actually know of anyone who says that.)

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