Microsoft Deemed More Ethical Than Google, Apple and Facebook

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Microsoft is no longer an evil empire, according to a corporate ethics think-tank.

The software giant earned a spot on Ethisphere’s 2011 list of the world’s 110 most ethical companies. Apple, Google and Facebook were left off the list. Other tech companies that received plaudits include T-Mobile, Adobe, Xerox and Symantec.

Ethisphere doesn’t go into detail on why Microsoft received the high praise, and its methodology page is packed with so much business jargon that I nearly passed out trying to make sense of it.

But as Business Insider points out, Microsoft started making a “corporate citizenship” push in the early 2000s, spurred by the antitrust trials that accused Microsoft of enjoying a monopoly over American PCs. The company has since donated millions to non-profits, invested in economic development programs and improved its internal reporting processes.

Not that Microsoft’s been perfect on the ethics front lately. Last summer, the company decided to keep doing business in China and obey local censorship laws, even as Google threatened to vacate the country. (Google eventually went crawling back.)

Google probably didn’t make Ethisphere’s list because companies who’ve faced significant legal trouble in the last five years are disqualified, Business Insider notes. We can only speculate on Facebook and Apple, but Facebook is facing scrutiny over privacy concerns, and tech watchers have dubbed Apple the new Microsoft due to its reign over the budding smartphone and tablet app market.

And yet, Apple is now worth more money than Microsoft. So much for Ethisphere’s theory that it pays to be ethical.