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Google Protest Signs  (View post)

Doh [PersonRank 1]

Monday, April 24, 2006
13 years ago5,911 views

Come on, this is getting lame. Shareholders would be happy since they get to make more money.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Let's say Google's move into China disappointed many loyal users... then do you think user trust is of no monetary value?

or [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

I hope stuff like this keeps up. Google's move into China increased the focus on the lack of freedom in the country. I care more about things changing in China, and less about any negative effect on Google.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

yeah we need to save google and free china!!

Maybe Google at the end of the day, is the sauce which begins to bring the reins of freedom to china.. albiet the chinese government knows this ..but they just don't want to admit it..!!

FYI ..circa 1800: Neoploen said "When china awakes the world will shake"!!

What began in 1984 (the Square!!) was just the begining.. now its spreading all over the world. History has proven that grass level initatives will pave the way for the future ..but its also the wise who know how to funnel the energy and avert another bloodbath within the regime!!

At this point of time, the chinese govenemnt, are trying to do their best without upsetting the apple cart to much.. .. they also have a duty to make sure that a blood bath does not occur within china again.. Freedom comes with responsiblity and as such responsiblity comes with education and training. .. Whilst at it... before-- you begin your rebuttall and teating me part, remember that 3/4 of the chinese population are not literate and are basically farm workers... no country can face the wrath of their grass root level citizens.. The france revelountiy record the fact!! :)-

Euphrosyne [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

The kneejerk response to Google is annoying. I'm anti-evil myself but you have to realize that if Google had stayed out of China, then Chinese citizens would have been left with what--Yahoo, who now regularly sells people out to the police, and MS, who removes blog material from US servers(!) at the slightest raised eyebrow from Chinese officials.

It's much like the classic moral catch-22: if you can choose to save 10,000 innocent people by killing 10 innocent people, would you do it? The alternative is to refuse, keep yourself "innocent", and let 10,000 people die.

Google is now mature enough as a company to realize that there is no way to remain pure. Omission can cause just as much evil as commission.

The zealots calling damnation down upon Google are more interested in keeping their ideological hands clean than in helping 20% of the worlds population, and they certainly don't care about Google's economic future.

Sam Davyson [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Euphrosyne: I believe that China have their own search engine that was already very popular. Baidu or something.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

yes Sam and Google has a good chunk of baidu as investors in that venture :)-

An rose is a rose by any other name .. likewise google is google by another name!! :)-

Euphrosyne [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Sam: Yes, Baidu is the top Chinese site, and there are others of course. I can't read Chinese (and thus haven't used Baidu), but I'm fairly confident that Google has a superior search engine.

Likewise, foreign companies have the opportunity to interpret the censorship rules differently than locals. Of course they can't cross the invisible line, but I believe the CEO of Baidu has made it clear in the past that his main concern is making money, and he is happy to do whatever the government tells him. Google at least has a conscience on the matter (regardless of what the zealots say), and didn't make this decision lightly.

Haochi [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

I saw the signs when I search Google on Flickr yesterday! Cool!

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

This is a site with signs protesting against google, giving you the message that the owner dosn't want you to use google; yet he uses Blogger (check the source) and a Gmail account.

Euphrosyne [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Mrrix32: Good point. The people who cry the loudest about how evil Google is being have nothing to lose by preaching. If Google "stays evil", then they win by looking morally superior. If Google "repents", then they can give themselves credit for making the difference.

They don't have to suffer the economic consequences either way, nor will it affect their own ability to search the Internet. It's a win-win situation for the morally simplistic.

And the 1.2 billion Chinese people? They don't care about them, it's all about keeping their favorite company neat and clean from the dirt of the world, like a prized porcelain doll.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Euphrosyne writes
> I'm anti-evil myself but you have to realize
> that if Google had stayed out of China, then
> Chinese citizens would have been left with
> what--Yahoo, who now regularly sells people
> out to the police, and MS, who removes blog
> material from US servers(!) at the slightest
> raised eyebrow from Chinese officials.

The alternative was not between No Google and Full Google. The alternative Google chose between was
a) an uncensored Google working 90% of the time (according to Google's estimates),
b) a self-censored Google.cn + Google.com that works 90% of the time.

Google going for b) sends two different signals: 1) every IT company is working with the Chinese gov't, none is trying to look for alternatives that fight censorship, and 2) that when the Chinese gov't decided to block Google.com again, there will not be such a large outcry (presumably) because there's still Google.cn.

I think the truth is that Google needs China more than the Chinese need Google – they already had their bunch of self-censoring search engines before Google decided to join.

> It's much like the classic moral catch-22:
> if you can choose to save 10,000 innocent
> people by killing 10 innocent people, would
> you do it? The alternative is to refuse,
> keep yourself "innocent", and let 10,000 people die.

You shouldn't knowingly kill 10 innocent people even if would mean a greater advantage/ freedom/ health for 10,000. As soon as you think you can kill some for a greater life for many, you end up where e.g. the Nazis went before. They did human lab tests, killing people to advance science. They also killed disabled people to "advance" society at large.

It's another discussion whether or not you can *risk* e.g. civilian war casualties. But no one should knowingly kill any other person to advance/ secure/ improve society (yes, that includes the death penalty in my opinion). Ask yourself if you would still have the philosophy you express if *you* would be one of the 10 innocent people to be killed (involuntarily!).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> I'm fairly confident that Google has a superior search engine.

I'm also confident that on average, users trust Google *more*. This could backfire, because people might not expect Google to self-censors. It can be argued the propaganda effect of pushing gov't friendly sites higher up in the rankings – which is what happens when you remove gov't unfriendly sites – is higher on Google. Google is against paid inclusion... but they allow exclusion of human right sites in China?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> Google at least has a conscience
> on the matter (regardless of what the
> zealots say), and didn't make this decision lightly.

Absolutely agreed on that, and they're miles away from what Yahoo is doing. What Yahoo is doing (handing dissident information to the Chinese gov't) IMO is plain evil + greedy... what Google is doing is a more blurred issue and debated by many, even though it's clearly going against their informal corporate motto (and promises voiced in old help entries which have now been altered).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> And the 1.2 billion Chinese people? They don't care
> about them, it's all about keeping their favorite
> company neat and clean from the dirt of the world,
> like a prized porcelain doll.

Your arguments sound cynical to me. My Chinese friend stopped using Google. She doesn't care about Google. But it hurts her that Google is now doing what every other company is doing... working with the Chinese gov't even though the gov't is doing evil things to the Chinese population (including her family). She doesn't want to use Google anymore because Google gave in to the propaganda demands of the Chinese gov't. You seriously believe that "1.2 billion Chinese" were craving for another censored western search engine?

Mahlon [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

As the publisher of the Don't Be Evil site, let me clarify a few things.

First, I'm not anti-Google. In fact, I'm a heavy Google user, and I own Google shares. (If Google starts making money through censorship or other immoral actions, I'll have to sell the shares.) I also run the www.buygoogle.com site, which is generally (though not always) pro-Google. I see no hypocrisy in using Google products like Blogger and Gmail, especially if I use those tools to both criticize and commend the company's actions.

Second, it would be kinda sick to make money from Google on a site that is becoming more critical of the company than it was a year ago. Therefore, I removed AdSense from the site. It's currently a labor of love, not monetized at all.

Third, I was inspired to create the Don't Be Evil site to show how corporations, through enlightened self-interest, can make high ethical standards part of their DNA, and deliver above-market returns. It's clear to me that much of Google's $130 billion market cap can be traced directly to the trust and brand equity that comes from Google's consistent, principled approach to decision making. By doing the right thing for the long term, Google may sacrifice short-term results – but as a user, as a citizen, and as a shareholder, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Fourth, Google's China policy is less evil than their competitors like Microsoft and Yahoo. But MS and Y never promised to be different, to conduct their business according to a higher set of principles, and MS and Y haven't built their brands on trust. Google has, and by employing engineers to develop the technology to efficiently censor information on a massive scale, Google has made an untenable compromise with their stated values. They either need to drop the motto, or change their practices since active censorship of political thought is wrong no matter how you rationalize it.

Fifth, the "Don't Be Evil" ethic used to refer to evils with a lowercase 'e' – refusing paid inclusion in search results even though it would make a pile of cash this quarter, going with unobtrusive text ads to put the user experience first, etc. In short, the "Don't Be Evil" motto was cute and funny. But now, Google's faced with Evils of the uppercase 'E' variety, and the motto isn't holding up so well when it really matters. This is serious stuff, not only for 1.3 billion Chinese, but for everyone who relies on Google for information.

Sixth, I believe that Google will be the most important global enterprise of this decade, and maybe the next decade. Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Although I love Google today, as a citizen it frightens me that a company willing to censor information on a massive scale wants access to the world's information. For Google to achieve their mission, they'll need every bit of trust they can muster. Boneheaded (if well intentioned) policies on censorship and privacy will be counterproductive to Google's mission because they violate the user's trust, even if these policies do get them access to a big market today.

You can see I'm conflicted. I'd love your thoughts on the virtual protest at
dontbeevil.com/2006/04/google- ...

Anonymous [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

> I'm also confident that on average, users trust Google *more*. This could backfire, because people might not expect Google to self-censors.

Do you think Chinese people are stupid?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> Do you think Chinese people are stupid?

No, anonymous. But Google places their censorship disclaimer in a part of the page where most eyes don't focus:


ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2005/02/ ...



If it's really the case that no one trusts Google in China, well even better as then we don't need to worry. But are you sure that's the case?

Euphrosyne [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

Phillip: You say that

> Google going for b) sends two different signals:
> 1) every IT company is working with the Chinese gov't,
> none is trying to look for alternatives that fight censorship

but I don't think this necessarily follows from Google's policy. In fact, I haven't seen anyone address the truly unique aspect of Google's Chinese search engine(s), namely that there is a censored and an uncensored version available. Citizens who care can find out *exactly* what pages their government considers too risky for them to view. Especially when you understand Google's methodology for determining what to censor, this creates something that no one outside the censors has had access to before: a precise and explicit blacklist!

This is a genius move: while "giving in" to government censorship, they simultaneously expose the censorship regime in a way no one else has ever been able to. Of course the Google PR people don't talk about this, but you can read it between the lines.

The killing innocent people argument is indeed tricky and was not meant literally, merely to point out that sometimes situations arise in which there is no "not evil" choice. At the very least, if Google stayed out of China it would have eventually left foreign search (and chat, mail, etc) in the hands of MS and Yahoo, which is unacceptable for both economic and moral reasons.

>people might not expect Google to self-censors.

As far as I know, Google is the only search engine that makes a clear statement when results are censored. This is a bold move that no one else has been brave enough to implement. Censorship works best when it is invisible, and Google is going to some lengths to shine a light where others don't dare.

Mahlon:

>Boneheaded (if well intentioned) policies on censorship and
>privacy will be counterproductive to Google's mission because
> they violate the user's trust

But Google specifically avoided privacy issues by not offering mail, chat and such. The real question will be to see what happens when the PRC demands logs of specific users' search histories. I won't defend Google if they do that. I'm not sure if they have specified their policies in this area, but if I were in charge I would not keep logs of user's histories--this would prevent Google from becoming a Yahoo-style accomplice to jailing dissidents. Google has stated that they don't expect to make any money in China for several years, so they should stick to that acceptance and limit their ad targeting to what can be done via cookies and such. They could still aggregate their search logs anonymously, sacrificing some functionality for ethics.

Does anyone know the particulars about ths?

Euphrosyne [PersonRank 1]

13 years ago #

>If it's really the case that no one trusts Google in China, well even
>better as then we don't need to worry. But are you sure that's the case?

Chinese people understand the politics of censorship much more intimately than those of us in democracies--although we almost certainly understand its implications more clearly.

The Chinese are quite aware that every bit of media in China is under the eye of the censors. This is not something that is openly discussed because 1) it can be dangerous to do so, and 2) everyone already knows it.

I seriously doubt that many PRC citizens will expect google.cn to be uncensored, so this aspect of the trust question is not a major issue. Much more relevant, as you and Mahlon mention, is the impact that Google's actions will have on the trust of the free world (the ones who gave them that incredible market cap).

ShellehS [PersonRank 5]

13 years ago #

since the Guge come out, i cant reach google.com.
may i have to say "bye forever google" ?
Chinese people are not stupid. we focus on world. we konw world sometime may more than you konw.
google has never give a fuc|< about china.
we dont stand on google's promise, it will roll.
we dont think there is freedom in network. every govenment make that imposible.
lot of govenments only care themselve, they dont want china to be stronger cuz that threaten their benefits. cuz china is none of unions, that means china wont kiss anyone's ass.

dont give us any atitude of yours, you just konw little about china. but it is for beyond your image, what you see is only the elephant's foot, not itself.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> As far as I know, Google is the only search engine
> that makes a clear statement when results are
> censored. This is a bold move that no one else
> has been brave enough to implement.

Agreed on that. It's interesting to note that the NYT article covering this quotes Google as having the intent of putting this disclaimer on top of search results. Now it's at the bottom.

<<Brin and his team decided that if they were going to be forced to censor the results for a search for "Tiananmen Square," then they would put a disclaimer at the top of the search results on google.cn explaining that information had been removed in accordance with Chinese law. When Chinese users search for forbidden terms, Brin said, "they can notice what's missing, or at least notice the local control." It is precisely the solution you'd expect from a computer scientist: the absence of information is a type of information. (Google displays similar disclaimers in France and Germany, where they strip out links to pro-Nazi Web sites.)>>

The NYT article also omits to discuss that for years, there *was no* such disclaimer on certain self-censored German search results.
nytimes.com/2006/04/23/magazin ...

Sho Fukamachi [PersonRank 0]

13 years ago #

This whole thing is lame and naiive. I believe in total free speech – and I mean total, no exceptions for any reason. But complaining that Google has done the wrong thing here is ludicrous. The Google search engine is an asset in so many ways – it educates, it informs. To deny it could be seen as morally wrong in itself. OK – they had to take out some search results to appease the still-communist government of the most populous country on Earth. Big deal.

You know, I have a friend who went to Africa to teach orphans. Now where she lives is not exactly a free country, and she has to have a special pass just to move freely. And needless to say, if she criticises the government in her school, she'll be in big trouble. So what do you "purists" say? She shouldn't be there? She's self-censoring – that's "evil"?

What rubbish. She weighed up the good and the bad, and made a decision for the greatest good. By giving those children a good education, bringing them up to think clearly and curiously, she is helping put in place the very foundations for a better society. This is exactly what Google is doing and I wholeheartedly agree with them. Those who insist on seeing every question only in simplistic, black-and-white absolutes only highlight their own obvious lack of experience doing anything meaningful in the real world.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

> black-and-white absolutes

The one thinking in absolutes was Google by claiming they follow "Don't be evil".... which means even the most optimistic view on this is that they were deceptive about their core philosophy. Google on their site also claimed they do not censor and believe in the democracy of the web (those pages have been changed by now). Don't you see... everyone is judging Google by their *own* standards.

Veky [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Well, not actually. If anything, they're judging Google by the standards they had a few years ago. You said yourself that they changed their site.

Of course Google has evolved. It must. Every organization (at least every longterm successful one... RIAA comes to mind:) has to grow and mature. And you don't have to know anything about business to understand it – because it's in life of every person, too. Anybody remembers our idealistic, immature thinking when we were kids? I do. And I'm in no way ashamed of it. I'll encourage same sort of thinking in my kids. I believe it's made me a better person now. Not because I stayed fixed to my childhood beliefs, but on the contrary, because, as I learned more about the structure of this world, I saw why they are out of sync, and learned how to make them better. Not better in some absolute sense, for sure, but better in a bigger picture, taking more things into consideration.

Yes, the humanity needs children. They need the naivity and idealism children so cheerfully provide. But the solution isn't for adults to keep acting and believing like children. The solution is the generational shift. Some new Google will be born, and it will have clean hands and pure soul, so it will be able to start anew, as has always been from the beginning of the history. This Google is not it. And to lament at someone's growing up isn't very mature itself, in a way.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Yahoo must be grandpa here, it's so grown-up... heck, they even help get people jailed.

Veky [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Yes. And it's no coincidence that we stereotypically view old people as bitter, disappointed, and always talking about "golden old times", yet doing nothing or very little to actually improve what they see now.

Google will grow old, too. Maybe it will avoid being stereotypical bitter old man, but it will definitely lose much of its youthful enthusiasm. And to expect that they stick to their obviously hyperbolic promises they wrote (in their best intention) during their childhood, will then seem childish even to most of us. Because we'll probably also grow old by then. :-)

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