Google Makes Certain Words Taboo, Like 'Market Share' And 'Reach'

Alphabet and Google employees are being trained to assume every document will become public, so company execs are asking employees to avoid using certain words and phrases when communicating things internally and externally. 

The document titled “Global Competition Policy” says it applies not only to interns and employees but also to temps, vendors and contractors -- in total, more than 100,000. It is reportedly part of a self-guided training tool for a range of Alphabet companies.

“The documents explain the basics of antitrust law and caution against loose talk that could have implications for government regulators or private lawsuits," reports nonprofit newsroom The Markup, which focuses on how technology changes society.

Words like “User Preference for Google Search” should replace the term “market share,” and the word “reach” should replace the word “share” when discussing figures.

Google spokesperson Julie Tarallo McAlister wrote in an email to The Markup that “these are completely standard competition law compliance trainings that most large companies provide to their employees. … We’ve had these trainings in place for well over a decade.”

Part of the document subtitled “Communicating Safely” advises employees on “Bad” and “Good” terms -- even how to use the terms in a sentence.

Rather than using “barriers to entry,” the document suggests substituting the phrase with the word “challenges.”

The document suggests replacing the sentence “Target has created a unique and unmatched product with significant network effects that create high barriers to entry” with the sentence “Target’s product provides a new option that consumers are finding increasingly valuable.

Another positive buzzword -- one used when talking about the Fitbit acquisition -- is when Risk Osterloh, SVP for devices and services at Google, wrote that the Fitbit deal “will increase choice, and create engaging products and helpful experiences for consumers.”

Interestingly, in the midst of several ongoing anticompetitive investigations by the U.S. government, The Markup also points out “Five Rules of Thumb for Written Communications” for Google employees.

  • We’re out to help users, not hurt competitors.
  • Our users should always be free to switch, and we don’t lock anyone in.
  • We’ve got lots of competitors, so don’t assume we control or dominate any market.
  • Don’t try and define a market or estimate our market share.
  • Assume every document you generate, including email, will be seen by regulators.
1 comment about "Google Makes Certain Words Taboo, Like 'Market Share' And 'Reach'".
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  1. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, August 11, 2020 at 7:59 p.m.

    Laurie, I sincerely want to believe that Mr. Osterloh has the best interest of their competitors however, the facts in my case says otherwise. I have been with Google AdSense and AdWords over 15 years. Google in the beginning was honest and we made a lot of money working together. Now, I have been under serious stress by their rules, policies and definitions. Google for example for several years call my site "Gambling" in writing. This gave them the excuse to take thousands of dollars away from me per month. After raising this to the FTC who referred this matter to the DOJ, Google has doubled down by chaning the wording to "Not Elgible". What does that mean?

    I have met all FTC laws, worked with the advertisers and their attorney's and followed alll state laws. Yet your employers overlook legal requirements setfoth in promotions. In writing Google is saying that it against policy for giving too much information in face of legal requirements. Clearly when Google said I was a "Gambling" website, Google knew I wasn't violating any federal Class 3 or Class 4 laws did you? 

    This is the heart of your comments.  You have employees in India who have a completely different definition for "Sweepstakes" than what we do in the USA. Sweepstakes is associated with gambling in SE Asia and many other countries. Here it is associated with free promotions by advertisers. Last, your AI is programmed to non-US standards for sweepstakes. Last on this, the advertisers name the majority of their promotions and include "Sweepstakes" in the title. Thereby making the title name in proper terms.

    Mr. Osterloh, yes I am competitor in promotional advertising and in a very small ways as search engine competitor. Your employee have been rude to me, refuse to answer the simpliest of question that would repair the relationship but the answer was no.

    All I ask for is to be treated fairly as I once was.

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