So we're up late last night, checking Susan Mernit's blog to see if she had already posted on the dinner at Yahoo yesterday, when we catch her post from earlier in the afternoon. She linked to John Battelle's coverage of a fracas involving a Googler fired for content on their blog. Seems Mark Jen, a new employee at Google, was dutifully using their blogging engine blogger to post to Ninety-Nine Zeros, Life @ Google from the Inside. Now he's on the outside looking in.

What's really, really interesting is that John Battelle reports that after hearing about it, he searched Google to find the blog, and couldn't. Couldn't even find a cached page. But he did find one on Yahoo (as of now, the blog seems to have been restored, but we have no way of knowing if it's intact). This would be officially the first time that anyone has potential evidence of Google manually deleting content from their search engine database, something that, in John's words, "Google claims they never do." While Google has denied that they erased him from their records (the blog was up for nearly a month, but had "very few inbound links"), SFist finds it kind of hard to believe that a site published on their own blogging engine would go completely unnoticed by their bots, while Yahoo seemed to have no trouble finding it and Bloglines was happy to archive the entire site. A choice excerpt of creepy goodness from the blog:

then look at all these other fringe "benefits": on-site doctor, on-site dentist, on-site car washes... the list goes on and on with one similarity: every "benefit" is on-site so you never leave work. i'm not going to say this isn't convenient for us employees, but between all these devices designed to make us stay at work, they might as well just have dorms on campus that all employees are required to live in.

The original story was broken in the forums of Google Blogoscoped. Jeremy Zowodny actually chatted with Mark and confirmed that the firing was "directly related to his blog," and compared a bit of the blogging culture at Yahoo and Google. While Google offer's their employees "20% time" to work on their own projects, the culture there seems very, very paranoid and secretive in terms of product details. So you can blog at the office, just don't talk about Google (unless it's fawning over the menu at the cafeteria).

This story has already broken and crested, and there's a maze of links out there to explored. Here's a before and after comparison regarding the specific content Mark initially removed after a talking-to by management (which is still absent from the site).