Don’t Be Evil vs. Do No Evil

Google’s informal corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil.”  Yet many people, even those who are relatively well informed, refer to it as “Do No Evil,” particularly when criticizing Google for one of its actions or policies.  In fact, the search query on Google’s own web site for “Google ‘do no evil’” returns more hits than for “Google ‘don’t be evil’”, 220,000 vs. 173,000.

This bugs me because, while the statements look similar, they have dramatically different meanings.  “Do No Evil” is a statement about actions, whereas “Don’t Be Evil” is a statement of, well, being.  Put another way, the former is about the body but the latter is about the soul.  If you can get these two confused, then you don’t really get the point that Google was trying to make in the first place.

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2 responses to “Don’t Be Evil vs. Do No Evil

  1. Color me confused – while I\’m sure you\’re right about what Google actually said, I\’m unclear on the implications.  I can look at Google\’s actions and see if they "do no evil" – what does "don\’t be evil" tell me about them?

  2. I consider myself justly chastised. 🙂

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