"Don't Be Evil" vs. "Do No Evil" - Google's Cutts Explains The Difference

Aug 23, 2011 - 8:46 am 13 by
Filed Under Google

Google Evil LogoGoogle's Don't Be Evil motto has helped make Google the iconic company they are today and at the same time has caused a lot of negativity towards the company in the past few years.

Matt Cutts, one of Google's most public faces, wrote a Google + entry on what the difference between the slogan "Don't Be Evil" vs. "Do No Evil" are to him. Let me quote Matt:

Reasonable people can disagree about how whether some things are evil. For example, some people believe that meat is murder, so eating a chicken burrito or wearing leather shoes is evil. Some people would argue that owning stock in (pick your favorite "evil" company) is itself evil; a few of those people would even consider it evil to own an index fund--which might hold shares of hundreds of companies--simply because the index fund might hold a few shares of the "evil" company.

To live a life (either as a person or a corporation) so that no one, anywhere in the world, at any time can accuse you of evil is impossible. I think a Bloom County comic strip made this point, with Opus the penguin getting more and more timid until eventually he was dangling from a tree to avoid stepping on things and killing them by accident. Even then, in the final frame Opus realized that by breathing he was killing tiny organisms in the air.

So I think "Do no evil" is an impossible standard: reasonable people can disagree on which choices are evil, and for different reasons. I prefer "Don't be evil" because it leaves room for honest disagreements, but still encourages Google to strive to make the world better.

By the way, when I see "do no evil" instead of "don't be evil" in an post or article, I know the author is much more likely to criticize Google. Once you start noticing how authors frame Google's core value as "Don't be evil" vs. "Do no evil" you'll often know what to expect from the article. Keep an eye out and you'll notice it in the future too.

Anyway, if you disagree or agree, there is some awesome discussion around this at Matt's post.

Forum discussion at Google +.

Image credit: Ben Cook


Popular Categories

The Pulse of the search community


Search Video Recaps

Google Core Update Volatility, Helpful Content Update Gone, Dangerous Search Results & Ads Confusion - YouTube
Video Details More Videos Subscribe to Videos

Most Recent Articles

Search Forum Recap

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 15, 2024

Apr 15, 2024 - 4:00 pm
Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Goes On Defensive On Its Search Quality & Forum Results Statements

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:51 am
Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Responds To The Verge Mocking Its Search Rankings For Best Printer

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:41 am
Google News

Google Threatens California: Tests Removing Links To Publishers & Pauses Investments

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:31 am
Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Crawl Budget Is Allocated By Hostname

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:21 am
Google AdSense

Google AdSense Publishers Reporting Huge RPM Earnings Drops

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:11 am
Previous Story: Delete Your YouTube Account? Want It Back? Act Fast!