Don’t Be Evil

Definition of Don’t Be Evil

“Don’t Be Evil” is not a technology term, but rather a motto that was adopted by Google in its early days. It served as an ethical guideline for the company to make decisions in the best interests of users and society. Over time, the motto evolved into “Do the right thing” and became part of Alphabet Inc.’s corporate code of conduct.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Don’t Be Evil” is: /doʊnt biː ˈiːvəl/

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t Be Evil is a core principle that guided Google’s actions and decision-making, focusing on always serving the best interests of users and prioritizing ethical behavior.
  2. Over time, this motto has become a subject of critique and controversy as Google has faced challenges related to user privacy, business expansion, and a perceived departure from their original ethical stance.
  3. Although the phrase “Don’t Be Evil” has been removed from Google’s Code of Conduct, elements of the principle still exist in the document and the company’s values, emphasizing that Google should act responsibly and be a force for good in the world.

Importance of Don’t Be Evil

The technology term “Don’t Be Evil” is important because it serves as a guiding principle for companies, especially those in the tech industry, to conduct their business ethically and responsibly.

Coined by Google in their initial public offering document in 2004, it has since become a subject of debate and discussion regarding the responsibility of tech companies in shaping our modern world.

The term highlights the need for organizations to prioritize user privacy, data protection, unbiased information, and equitable treatment of all stakeholders while developing and delivering their products and services.

Given the increasingly pervasive role of technology in our daily lives, “Don’t Be Evil” underscores the importance of ensuring that our technological advancements are employed for the greater good of society and not to harm or exploit its users.


“Don’t Be Evil” was a powerful and influential business motto embraced by Google to express their commitment to ethical practices throughout the company. At its core, the phrase encompasses the notion that technology should ultimately benefit humanity while adhering to an ethical framework.

Essentially, technology platforms and tools should be designed and employed in a manner that is grounded in moral values and which avoids any adverse impacts on society. However, “Don’t Be Evil” is not a specific technology, but rather a guiding principle for businesses operating in the technology sector, and for their developers and engineers.

This principle encourages organizations to consider the broader implications of their applications or systems in terms of user privacy, safety, and freedom of expression. More specifically, “Don’t Be Evil” can be seen as a call to action for technology companies to operate transparently and prioritize user interests, thereby acting as responsible players in the global business ecosystem.

Examples of Don’t Be Evil

“Don’t be evil” is not a technology itself; it is a famous corporate motto used by Google to guide their actions and decision-making processes, emphasizing the importance of ethical behavior and consideration of users’ needs. Here are three real-world examples of how technology can embody this “Don’t be evil” principle:

Privacy-protecting search engines: Search engines like DuckDuckGo are designed to prioritize user privacy. Unlike some other search engines, DuckDuckGo does not track users, sell their data to third parties, or target individuals with personalized ads based on search history. This is an example of technology that prioritizes user well-being and respects privacy, embodying the “Don’t be evil” philosophy.

Open-source software: Open-source software like the Linux operating system or the Firefox web browser encourage transparency, collaboration, and user freedom. By providing source code and allowing users to contribute and modify these technologies, open-source initiatives prioritize public good over corporate interests, reflecting the “Don’t be evil” ethos.

Ethical AI development: Companies such as OpenAI emphasize on developing technologies and artificial intelligence that are safe, beneficial, and used for humanity’s greater good. OpenAI actively engages in research to build AI that will assist people and ensures that the benefits of AI are accessible to everyone. Such ethical AI development is an example of technology that embraces the “Don’t be evil” principle.

FAQ – Don’t Be Evil

What does “Don’t Be Evil” mean?

“Don’t Be Evil” is a motto that encourages companies and individuals to act ethically and responsibly, putting the needs of users and customers first, and striving to make a positive impact on society and the environment.

Where did the phrase “Don’t Be Evil” originate?

The phrase “Don’t Be Evil” was originally used as an unofficial corporate motto by Google in the early 2000s. It was meant to serve as a reminder to keep the user’s best interests in mind and to avoid compromising their privacy and rights for the company’s financial gain.

Why is “Don’t Be Evil” important in the tech industry?

“Don’t Be Evil” is important in the tech industry because it emphasizes the importance of ethical decision-making, transparency, and accountability. As technology becomes an integral part of our lives, it’s crucial for companies to prioritize user trust and well-being, while avoiding actions that can lead to negative consequences for users and society as a whole.

How can companies adopt the “Don’t Be Evil” philosophy?

Companies can adopt the “Don’t Be Evil” philosophy by setting a strong ethical foundation, developing corporate policies that prioritize user rights and privacy, fostering a corporate culture that encourages ethical behavior, and being transparent and accountable for the actions and decisions made by the company. This commitment to ethical behavior should be ingrained throughout all levels of the organization, from the executives to the employees.

Are there any criticisms of the “Don’t Be Evil” motto?

Some critics argue that the “Don’t Be Evil” motto can be vague and open to interpretation, allowing companies to justify their actions by claiming that they are not “evil.” Others have accused companies of using the motto as a public relations tactic while continuing to engage in unethical practices or make decisions that prioritize their own interests over those of users or society.

Related Technology Terms

  • Google’s Code of Conduct
  • Corporate Ethics
  • Responsible Artificial Intelligence
  • Data Privacy
  • Online User Rights

Sources for More Information


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