Well That Should Fix Things: Goldman Sachs Implements Email Filter To Ban Swear Words

from the well-*&#%#! dept

You may recall the infamous Senate hearings looking into Goldman Sachs a few months back, where Senator Carl Levin repeatedly quoted an email about how something was “a shitty deal.” Included during the discussion was this fun exchange between Levin and Goldman Sach’s CFO, David Viniar:

LEVIN: And when you heard that your employees, in these e-mails, when looking at these deals said, God, what a shitty deal, God what a piece of crap — when you hear your own employees or read about those in the e-mails, do you feel anything?

VINIAR: I think that’s very unfortunate to have on e-mail.

(The gallery bursts out laughing.)

LEVIN: On an e-mail?

VINIAR: Please don’t take that the wrong way. I think it’s very unfortunate for anyone to have said that in any form.

LEVIN: How about to believe that and sell them?

VINIAR: I think that’s unfortunate as well.

LEVIN: That’s what you should have started with.

VINIAR: You’re correct. It is.

Well, now it appears that Goldman Sachs has figured out a way to try to prevent that “unfortunate” situation from occurring again. Rather than not selling shitty deals while pretending they’re golden, it’s putting in place an email filter to block swear words from being sent over email. The filter will apparently even block out **** for those who try to textually bleep their swear words. That’ll fix things.

To be fair, the whole “shitty deal” comment did get blown out of proportion. It certainly does look bad, but Goldman Sachs was correct in that it was not acting as an advisor in that situation. Its job was merely to sell the client what they wanted to buy. But, even so, it does seem kind of amusing that the response to this getting publicity is to try to stop the swearing…

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Companies: goldman sachs

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Comments on “Well That Should Fix Things: Goldman Sachs Implements Email Filter To Ban Swear Words”

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24 Comments
fogbugzd (profile) says:

The easy route

It is always easier to pretend to have good morals than it is to actually have good morals.

Cleaning up the language is a lot easier than cleaning up the situation that made the email a matter of public interest in the first place.

Also, there are massive problems with word filters. Sometimes the words being filtered are legitimate words in a certain context, making communication on that topic difficult. Second, people learn where the edges of the filter are and come up with “masked vulgarity” that will slip around the filters. On the positive side, sometimes the masked vulgarity is very funny.

If filters are the “solution” Goldman Sacks implements, I can hardly wait for the next set of hearings five or ten years from now. The fact that GS execs still don’t understand that the problem was underlying ethics pretty much guarantees we will be treated to another round of hearings in a few years. Masked vulgarity is often a lot funnier to read than the original vulgarity, so the new batch of emails we see at the next hearings should be even funnier.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The easy route

> It is always easier to pretend to have good morals than it is to actually have good morals.

No, it’s not easier. You have to keep track of the precise details of how you are pretending.

If you actually have, it is much easier; you simply have to be yourself. No need to keep track of anything.

JNomics (profile) says:

Either the testimony from which you are quoting is off or you mistranscribed that which you quoted, because there are several places where the words of Viniar are not correct. Secondly, you have quite ignorantly misrepresented what Goldman did and the kinds of deals they were involved with. It’s tired and boring. Please stick to a subject matter you understand.

JNomics (profile) says:

It’s the portion that was excluded just prior to the quoted portion. I agree, my initial comment was not well constructed. But it’s the height of stupidity, in my opinion, to be upset with and continue to attack Goldman. They were not and are not the problem and their actions were perfectly legal. The charge was weak, which is why it was settled for a measly sum, and the timing was convenient for the Government given the financial regulatory legislation (legislation which I support) they were looking to pass. And, I think it’s silly for a site like TechDirt to be commenting on the matter. It cheapens the rest of the rich content that is on the site. Here’s video of the entire portion of the testimony.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_NtV6Rptd4

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“it’s the height of stupidity, in my opinion, to be upset with and continue to attack Goldman.”

– BS

“They were not and are not the problem”

– BS.

“and their actions were perfectly legal.”

– translation: not ethical … but not illegal.

“I think it’s silly for a site like TechDirt to be commenting on the matter”

– Silly me.

Berenerd (profile) says:

Re: Umm...JNomics....

Umm…the topic was the fact they are going to try and filter cuss words from emails. The fact that he did just a little background on the case without going full on in depth about it means you were just looking to complain about something. It is HIS blog and he can do what he wants. I know full well what happened. He pushed the limits of legality and got caught, finally. What he did was morally questionable. He broke people’s trust and he knew he did. As for legality, there is nothing legally wrong with what he did just like there is nothing wrong with what the big banks did when wall street crashed. They actually pushed limits and did stupid things and because so much more damage would have happened if we the people let them eat their own crap, we would be even worse off than we are now, or so the government would tell us that.
So go off and whine about your life somewhere else.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Umm...JNomics....

Man, that’s going a bit far. I mean, to say that Mike is morally questionable and broke people’s trust just because he didn’t dig a little deeper in his post? Jeez…

On a lighter note, this is just one more amusing-if-it-weren’t-so-sad example of the dog and pony shows Congressmen trot out all the time, sounding like absolute dumbshits talking out of their ass. They clearly have no clue what they’re talking about and they clearly don’t care, just so long as they get their media coverage pretending to be populist as they scream at scapegoats.

Why are people dumb enough to believe it?

DH's Love Child (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Umm...JNomics....

On a lighter note, this is just one more amusing-if-it-weren’t-so-sad example of the dog and pony shows Congressmen trot out all the time, sounding like absolute dumbshits talking out of their ass. They clearly have no clue what they’re talking about and they clearly don’t care, just so long as they get their media coverage pretending to be populist as they scream at scapegoats.

And their compatriots in the media do a wonderful job of accommodating them. Sometimes I think we all need to band together and take out all of the mainstream media outlets so that actual NEWS can reach the unsuspecting people istead of the entertainment schlock that they try to pass off as news.

But i digress…

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