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Google Censorship China Your Rights Online

Google Highlights Censored Search Terms In China 99

itwbennett writes "Responding to complaints from Chinese Googlers that the search engine is 'inconsistent and unreliable,' Google has updated its service to help users steer clear of search queries that will result in page errors. Google will now highlight characters and phrases that are likely to 'break' a user's connection. 'By prompting people to revise their queries, we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user experience from mainland China,' the company said in a blog post."
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Google Highlights Censored Search Terms In China

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Friday June 01, 2012 @11:53AM (#40180887) Journal

    Hidden censorship is worse than obvious censorship. Shame on Google for hiding China's shame.

    I don't understand this logic at all. From the summary:

    Google will now highlight characters and phrases that are likely to 'break' a user's connection.

    Uh so it looks like Google is calling attention to China's censorship and giving users a nod ahead of time that their search is going to be censored. This is far from "hiding" anything and, conversely, lets the user know about the censorship. The other good thing this does is that if I'm interested in censored terms and my IP hits the great firewall with these censored terms, the government might build a dossier on my entire histories to see what else I'm interested in and have dirt on me if they need it. But if Google is warning me ahead of time, this never hits the firewall and China doesn't get to profile their citizens based on search queries. Google will enable you, if you so choose, to appear to keep your nose clean.

  • by _0x783czar ( 2516522 ) on Friday June 01, 2012 @11:55AM (#40180905) Homepage Journal
    Google is not hiding, nor aiding China's censorship. In a way... Google is actually "highlighting" China's censorship. Google is a company that wants to keep its customers. It's customers think that Google is to blame for what they can't find (at least from what I understand about the article) and so Google is trying to make it clear that certain things they look for will not work, since their Government doesn't trust them. To those who grasp this concept, every time a word they type in the query box gets highlighted its like Google saying "sorry, your Government doesn't want you to know about that". Whether Google has any other motive than just making it clear that they are not to blame for failed searches or not, the result in the minds of the observant is still worth noting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @12:01PM (#40180959)
    Oh God! A company having the audacity to tell you about things you might want to buy?! Truly, they are the most evil people to have ever walked the face of this good Earth.
  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Friday June 01, 2012 @12:02PM (#40180971)

    Google helpfully telling the Chinese people, "Hey, this search term won't work, maybe you should try another *wink wink*". That should make it easier to to bypass China's filters.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Friday June 01, 2012 @12:22PM (#40181221) Homepage

    Google is empowering the Chinese citizen with knowledge that he/she is actively being censored. Previously, it was all mysterious rumors. I mean, they know there's censorship, but without defined boundaries. That aspect of being unknown invokes fear. Fear is control. What Google is doing is providing solidification to that fact. As I've said earlier, this will backfire can cause Google to be kicked out.

    The Chinese government is a lot like that mysterious "Architect" in the movie The Matrix. They want to control without being the source of instability. By making censorship an actively known issue, they've become a major fly in the ointment. The government will not have this. I guarantee!

  • by nomorecwrd ( 1193329 ) on Friday June 01, 2012 @12:22PM (#40181225)

    leave people the hell alone to conduct their lives in peace already!

    Sorry, but you were filtered... nobody could read you there.

  • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Friday June 01, 2012 @12:27PM (#40181265)

    I would think that giving people interactive hints that can be used to work around censorship is generally 'not evil'. More evil than taking a stand and ignoring the Chinese government until they're completely blocked and replaced wholesale with a Chinese government controlled search engine? Perhaps, perhaps not.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Friday June 01, 2012 @12:46PM (#40181515)

    By google providing users with information about what is blocked they are enabled to more rapidly formulate queries which bypass censorship. The change is a win for all but oppressive control.

  • by Lithdren ( 605362 ) on Friday June 01, 2012 @01:07PM (#40181793)
    I dont think you're understanding whats happening here at all.

    Google is not removing results from their search. A user comes along and searches for "Human Rights Abuses in Tibet" for example. If I run the search I get about 4.5 million hits (my lord, 4.5 million hits on that? Anyway...) because i'm in the US.

    If I were in china, i'd get a 404 page not found error, or some other weird obsure error page.

    Whats happening is someone between me and Google is intercepting the search query, deciding on some filter if what im searching for is appropriate based on some unknown list of "not to be known" subjects, and if my searches dont pass the test I dont get the results back. Peoplere were complaining to Google because it seemed like it was Google's fault.

    So Google is now going to turn around and say "Hey, you, user. Yeah you! Just wanna let you know, searching for that has resulted in people not getting results."

    So, yeah, way to jump on the "OMG GOOGLE IS EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL AND IM SMART FOR POINTING IT OUT HAHAHAHAHAHA" bandwagon. Your bias is showing.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev