Google Blogoscoped

Friday, March 2, 2007

Censored Google China Book Search Launches

Google launched a local Chinese book search. Interestingly enough, while this service doesn’t make its censorship explicit, it’s restricted to find less Chinese books than Google’s other localized book searches because it omits Chinese books published outside of China mainland – this is disclosed at the end of search results in italics, reading “These results only include works from Mainland China.”*

In other localized Google Book searches, like in Germany, Google allows you to find everything they scanned,** but this is not the case for now. As an example, a search for “台独” (Taiwan independence) returns 76 books in both and, but only 53 books – plus the disclaimer – in This does not mean that Google China book search is restricted to Chinese works only; it does find English-language books, as long as they’re published within China, which I suppose restricts this to a more government-friendly selection. As an example, the query taiwan independence yields 1,152 results in Google Books Spain and 1,156 results in Google Books Germany, whereas the same search in China is restricted to only 10 books. Some result count flakiness can be expected in different localizations, but Google China shows significantly different counts, and Google’s disclaimer admits as much. Are these the kind of “growing investments” Google announced in early 2006?

*In Chinese: “搜索结果由中国大陆出版图书提供”. Possibly not coincidentally, the positioning and formatting of this notice resembles Google’s self-censorship disclaimer. Another result type in which Google doesn’t explicitly disclose their censorship is’s News service.

**At least as far as I know they do show everything in other localized versions. The only difference being that sometimes, books that passed into the public domain are listed, but not fully readable outside the US.

[Thanks Xiaowan!]


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