Why can’t Google employees publicly talk about their job?

What must Googlers not talk about publicly to avoid losing their jobs?

Google is one of the most preferred tech companies to work for. Over the years, Google has gained a reputation for being a benevolent employer for software engineers and developers. However, it has certain dos and donts for its employees. Crossing the proverbial line can mean instant pink slip and  ignominy of living with the fact that Google fired for the lifetime for a software engineer/developer.

So what must Googlers not publicly to avoid ruining their careers by getting fired?

We scoured different answers on Quora to tell you what current and ex-Googlers or as Google employees are known, say what they can speak.

Here are a few examples of what happened to certain Google employees when they spoke/wrote out of line from Google policy.

  • Mark Jen joined Google in January 2005. He immediately started blogging about the experience and included “some information from prior postings that Google considered to be sensitive information about the company’s finances and products” (source). Mr. Jen was fired from Google eleven days later. An interview the following month said, “Even now, weeks after he was terminated, Jen doesn’t know what led Google management to decide to fire him …”
  • Steve Yegge wrote a long screed in 2011, accidentally posted publicly, that in part said, “The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought.” Despite its overwhelmingly negative tone, this post revealed no confidential information. Mr. Yegge was not fired.

These instances were provided by Paul S. R. Chisholm who worked for Google from  June 2007 to March 2014. Another Googler, Brian Bi who is at present(!) a software engineer says that as Googlers, they don’t talk about unreleased products, details of proprietary systems, or personally identifying information. Bi says that this kind of behaviour is likely to get the employee fired immediately.

Bi says that there are certain things which Google doesn’t allow employees to talk even privately. For example, Googlers instructed not to post on internal mailing lists about ongoing litigation that involves Google. Failing to follow this may get the Googler a stern warning from a lawyer. Repeated offenders may get the pink slip.

Leaving aside litigation and proprietary Google products, Bi Googlers have freedom to give their views on other subjects. For example, a Googler can write about the evils of web advertising without crossing the line.

David Tussey who put in six years at Google in product management says all tech companies have the same dos and donts that can get you fired. Competition sensitive data, financial results, new product development status, potential/ongoing litigation, mergers and acquisitions — anything that is directly and materially related to the success and competitive position of Google or any other tech company can get you fired.

Every company, especially tech company employee has to sign a Non-disclosure Agreement or NDA with it. NDAs are not restricted to blog posts and have social media platforms and any other public means of communication under their ambit. US-based companies particularly go to great lengths to prevent confidential information being leaked by employees and punish them severely. Many find out later that Chinese government and its agencies had access to every information in engineering, product development, marketing, finance and all R&D projects for many years.


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