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Google Removes Its Help Entry on Censorship  (View post)

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

Friday, January 27, 2006
11 years ago

They also changed their Ten Things page:

"Full-disclosure update: When we first wrote these "10 things" four years ago, we included the phrase "Google does not do horoscopes, financial advice or chat." Over time we've expanded our view of the range of services we can offer &#8211;- web search, for instance, isn't the only way for people to access or use information -&#8211; and products that then seemed unlikely are now key aspects of our portfolio. <b>This doesn't mean we've changed our core mission</b>; just that the farther we travel toward achieving it, the more those blurry objects on the horizon come into sharper focus (to be replaced, of course, by more blurry objects)."

At least you can't say they are dishonest.

Rick [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Under their: What can I do if a site in your search results ripped me off? Help Section

"As you may know, Google is a reflection of the web. Although we aggregate and organize content published on the web, we don't control the content itself.

It's our policy not to police or censor content..."

I think they need to update another page.

google.com/support/bin/answer. ...

Juan [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

I think to protest we should declare a no-google day and o all searches with gigablast.com (Yahoo also sucks re collaboration with censors) and no use of google services or at leat include some google sucks or something in gmail, blogger posts etc.

CJ Millisock [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

lol You guys are crazy. Google isn't evil.

Daryl Westfall [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Yeah, a company that sells out their promise to index an uncensored internet when the first huge repressive totalitarian dictatorship that tosses money its way – that's not evil at all. No, sireebob.

Juan [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

sure Millisock Google is not evil and US does not torture!

Bratsche [PersonRank 2]

11 years ago #

I'm really split about this. Complying with censors isn't very nice. But does this keep in line to spread information to the whole world? I think that they probably should have kept out of China until some sort of compromise could be made. Wikipedia has a similar goal with information, and we aren't making a censored version.

Hopefully, they can make up for this. They've made a fair amount of blunders lately.

ST [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Google doesn't cater to the blogosphere. It's a business. They aren't stupid. They knew this small subset (that's the 'omg i thought you said no evil' people in tech world) of the entire userbase would disapprove. They simply made a cost-benefit decision that, they feel, will net them the most $ and highest valuation going forward. Whether they're right or wrong remains to be seen.

Harvard Irving [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

To bratsche:

I don't believe Google are helping "spread information." As this article points out, the existing search engines (Microsoft, Yahoo) censor less information than Google does. It seems that Google is bending over backwards to promote the Chinese government's view. Why?

To ST:

It is not a small subset of people who are upset. google are causing themselves long-term damage to their population. this has been reported all over the world, on prime-time TV – not just in blogs.

Stuart [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

I am a supporter of China. I travel there frequently, speak the language, understand the culture, sometimes work there, etc. I DESPISE the typical ignorant, uninformed, half-wit BS that most folks in the U.S. spout about the country ("...huge repressive totalitarian dictatorship..." for example. You obviously don't REALLY know sh!t about China) and I find it laughable that people argue that having some Google in China is better than no Google... as if this censored, American originated search algorithm will have some sort of positive rubbing off over there. The arrogance of the "at least get in some Western influence" argument is so typically f'ing American and it just drives home (sadly, to everyone except Americans themselves) how little people here really understand about the place.

That said, I think Google was wrong to side with China's censorship policies in order to make money (that "cost-benefit" bit). In fact, my opinion of Google really sank when they did this. Search in China was not exactly lacking prior to google.cn (heck, what's wrong with google.com/intl/zh-CN/ it is what everyone was using last week). In addition to Google's own chinese language page there was Yahoo, Baidu, MSN and many others. The censorship in China, while simple to circumvent (anonymous proxies are popular... I usually use Tor myself), is a very bad thing and now Google has thrown their multi-national, bazillionaire asses behind it... all to get even more multi-national and make even more bazillions than they already are/have. Way to not be evil. So much for standards. But then, that IS the American way, is it not? Anything goes for our own benefit 'cause we're the good guys after all.

Brajesh Sachan [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Meanwhile, Google has updated the cesnsorship page the post links to. Now It reads-
"It is Google's policy not to censor search results. However, in response to local laws, regulations, or policies, we may do so. When we remove search results for these reasons, we display a notice on our search results pages. Please note: For some older removals (before March 2005), we may not show a notice at this time."

Juan [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

>When we remove search results for these reasons, we display a notice on our search results pages

I don´t tink this is true, have you seen the notice?e.g. for falun gong or tianenmen results? maybe the notice is in chinese?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Juan, yes the notice is in Chinese. This notice doesn't always show in Germany though.

Victaboom [PersonRank 1]

11 years ago #

The issue of Google censoring its search results in China perfectly illustrates my frustration with Google.

Namely, that Google’s idealistic mission statement and company philosophy of a democratic internet often create a misleading image of the company as noble high-tech hero. While in fact, the company is just another corporation working to provide value to its employees and shareholders – which I may add, it does an exceptional job at.

Enter China. The largest economy in the world and an economy that is increasingly liberalizing its economic systems. So, just like all firms with the means to enter this burgeoning market, Google saw the opportunity and had to follow it. And in the process of entering the market, Google may have had to make some difficult decisions about their business philosophy, but clearly, the prospect of growing their business in China was too big of an opportunity to forgo.

Google definitely made the right business decision in this issue, though, that’s all this issue was – a business decision. I just wish that more people, both at Google and in the public, would realize that Google is just a business trying to maximize profit and bring value to its stakeholders.

The ideals and values of Google are important – investors and the public have openly bought into the GoogleVision – and while it’s “noble” and even fun to believe in them, I guarantee they’re the first thing to go by if Google’s stock value begins to fall. Because first and foremost, Google is a business, and nothing else. No matter what beliefs or values you attach to it.

Stuart [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

"...that’s all this issue was – a business decision." Why is it OK for business to be focused purely on economic decisions and devoid of moral values? People like to pretend as if business decisions and morally motivated decisions are mutually exclusive. Why? It certainly doesn't have to be that way.

Since businesses are intimately involved in the daily lives of individuals and the overall flow of where humanity is headed, shouldn't they strive for something more comprehensive than the bottom line? When your actions affect the quality/direction/shape of people's lives, to pin everything on requiring an ever increasing flow of dollars seems quite evil.

In Google's case, they have made huge sums of money. Assuming their goal in bowing to the chinese government's censorship laws is, as many are claiming, simply a business decision, then their goal here is simply to make even more money. When is it enough? All of that money and power should come with some inherent moral obligations. It doesn't seem to in the view of most people, but it really should.

Matt [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Why is Google continually suffering criticism for something that the Chinese government is doing (or, if you prefer, forcing them to do)?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Nobody forced Google to do business in China. Besides, the Chinese government is getting a lot of criticism for many years. And then, naturally there's a focus on Google here as this blog is about Google. The evil originates outside of Google; but Google decided to partner with the Chinese gov't. Whether or not that makes Google guilty is another issue.

Robert Dhonerty [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Google is a business. An important one for Americans. Rather short sighted to become involved in the internal affairs of a country. Multi-nationals survive by entering into an area and becoming part of the culture. Americans with college literacy at all time low, a me-first self-serving view of existence, dependent on mood altering psychiatric drugs because they cannot face reality and point the finger of incompentency and a "stressful life" at anyone other themselves, voting for corrupt "representatives" election-after-election, holding the "shield of christianity" as a "holier than thou" pattern no better than a child in a school yard would better serve itself to getting its own house in order.

Victaboom [PersonRank 1]

11 years ago #

Most people (including myself) would agree that business decisions should always be tied to a code of ethics, and also should be joined with a firm commitment to providing value and benefits to the owners and employees of a business. But unfortunately, it appears that my previous post created the impression that I felt otherwise.

In my previous post I tried to explain that Google's decision was solely a business decision – meaning that the final decision was done on what was best for the company and its shareholders. I didn't mean to imply by this, however, that the decision lacked a consideration of the ethical repercussions of moving into China. What I was trying to illustrate was that Google's decision should not be viewed as a deviation from some set of utopian ideals, but as a rational decision that any profit-maximizing firm would likely make.

The ultimate point that I was trying to make was to point out the GIGANTIC disconnect between Google as a philosophy / ideal and Google as a business. On one hand, Google presents a public image of a heroic anti-corporate corporation that's somehow miraculously different from the evil ways of older corporations, while on the other hand, Google acts like any other profit-seeking firm by making decisions such as moving into China to increase market share.

All I was trying to do was to point out this disconnect because it annoys me so much.

One last bit of rambling:

I do think that there valuable aspects to the Google philosophy and more generally, liberal lines of thought. Specifically, that greed and unrestrained power can produce many unethical business decisions – hence why corporations have a bad rep anyway, and why Google would want to differentiate itself. But I also think that many people inaccurately assume that business decision making and trying to improve the bottom line are inherently unethical, unprincipled and detrimental to society as a whole.

After all, aren't capitalism and business decision making what has made one of the best societies to be a part of in the world?

PulSamsara [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

Google has gone to the dark side. What a loss. Have some back-bone Google. You can sell your far reaching foresite...just getting our feet in the door.. to the slaves. I'm not buying your bullsh[put at-character here]t.

Support Freedom! [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Just a business decision? Following local laws? Protecting shareholder interests?

Haven't we heard those words too often? Can't we learn from history, and this time truly pledge "never again"?

I recommend a visit to a Holocaust museum to see the results of business without ethics. Ethics will keep you and me--and the rest of the world free. Lack of ethics will deliver slavery every time.

U.S. Holocaust Museum:
ushmm.org/
Visit the museum in Washington DC and see one of the infamous IBM Hollerith machines that automated the holocaust.

Here's a Buchenwald Concentration Camp Prisoner Data Card--notice the red stamp "Hollerith" showing the data was entered onto an IBM card:
ushmm.org/uia-cgi/uia_doc/phot ...

These two articles will (and should) scare the hell out of you as you read how much IBM's Hollerith machines contributed to the Holocaust:
villagevoice.com/news/0213,bla ...
villagevoice.com/news/0241,bla ...

Fast forward to Yahoo in today's China, acting as the long arms of the Chinese Gestapo:
rsf.org/article.php3?id_articl ...

Google's human rights crimes may be lesser than Yahoo's. "It's just censorship", as if that's not a human rights crime itself. Imagine if Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was censored in the US? Or if Rosa Parks' brave defiance was silenced? Can we trust Google to refuse Beijing's likely demands for individual search data and IP addresses now that their investment is held hostage by Beijing? Yahoo certainly caved in quickly, didn't they?

The issues today as in history are the same. Can't we finally decide "never again", and mean it?

Celia Llopis-Jepsen [PersonRank 0]

11 years ago #

This will interest you: "Is there a way to circumvent Google's Censorship in China?" at Civiblog.org civiblog.org/blog/_archives/20 ...

And if you'd like to send an email to Google to let them know that people are still paying attention and don't approve of censorship, you can do so either here:
Amnesty International Action Center
takeaction.amnestyusa.org/site ...

or here:
My own letter suggestion to Google: chinaweekly.civiblog.org/blog/ ...

Support Freedom! [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Brilliant!

Thank you very much.

For a small advertising cost, we, who enjoy freedom, can bring it to those who wish for freedom.

Perhaps everyone who reads this can invest just $100 in Google ads which link to important censored websites revealing the truth the Chinese need to have. Individually that's not a great sum of money or ads. If just 1,000 people do this over one year, that's 100,000 dollars of freedom ads for the Chinese people!

www.hrichina.org is just one of the sites Beijing especially fears. Google terms like "censored sites China" should list others.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Now we have to pay Google to show the truth? Sigh.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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