×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google Admits China Censorship Was Damaging

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-being-evil dept.

Censorship 205

pilsner.urquell writes to let us know about a wide-ranging interview with Google's founders from Davos, Switzerland. Larry Page and Sergey Brin admitted that allowing China to censor its search engine did harm to the company in its Western markets. Quoting the Guardian article: "Asked whether he regretted the decision, Mr. Brin admitted yesterday: 'On a business level, that decision to censor... was a net negative.'" The reporter concludes that Google is unlikely to revise its Chinese censorship policy any time soon.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

205 comments

Agreed.. but why? (4, Insightful)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785860)

Google have made it easier for Chinese users to find uncensored content and clearly labels pages where results have been censored. Since they would not be allowed to conduct business if they didn't allow this, I can't really see how what they did can be considered morally wrong.

Re:Agreed.. but why? (-1, Troll)

OverlordOfEvolution (1056610) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785948)

Using this kind of logic, you'd do business with any one. Sure, NK has nukes and is helping Iran get them, but if we don't allow them censorship abilities, we can't do biz. Right. What a PR sham. OoE

Re:Agreed.. but why? (2, Insightful)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786046)

You're missing the point.

Worst case scenario if Google censors their index so the Chinese public have access to it: Information (that an arbitrary entity deems acceptable) is more accesible
Worst case scenario if Iran has nuclear arms: millions of people die

Of course you're only making a point, but the first situation is arguably the right thing to do; they are in no way making things worse. Your example can have devastation consequences and so can be considered Bad Thing(TM).

Re:Agreed.. but why? (1, Troll)

Javit (68742) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787244)

I don't agree with the nukes comparison either, but don't brush off the impact of censorship, a form of information control. It's not as simple as giving them access to information they wouldn't otherwise have; it's what they don't see. Consider, for example, if Google in the United States was disallowed from returning results that so much as acknowledge the existence of the Democratic Party or its principles. Do you think a citizen of this hypothetical USA should be thankful to get whatever information Google does provide?

Re:Agreed.. but why? (1)

j_philipp (803945) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786754)

> Google have made it easier for Chinese users
> to find uncensored content

No. Because China had (and still has) access to google.com (working around 90% of the time, according to Google).

Re:Agreed.. but why? (2, Insightful)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786868)

Since they would not be allowed to conduct business if they didn't allow this, I can't really see how what they did can be considered morally wrong.
This is an idiotic sentence. I think it's quite damningly clear how it can be considered "morally wrong" if you value freedom of information, which google purports to do as per its "do no evil" philosophy. Exactly that: "do no evil" for the good of the profit. What they do in allowing china to censor its product is allowing evil for the sake of profit.
I'm sorry and I'll probably be modded flamebait for this, but I find your post extremely ignorant and I find it scary that it's supposed to be FP material.

Re:Agreed.. but why? (2, Insightful)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786958)

Well evil is in the eye of the beholder. To the Chinese regime, uncensored net access is evil. To 'do no evil' in China, they must agree to the Chinese governments definitions of evil and good. This of course goes against the principles of the founders of Google, but not against the principles of the Chinese regime. I'd say the Chinese people are far better off than they would be if all of Googles servers were blocked by the government. It seems they chose a lesser of two evils, which also allows unfiltered content from outside the Chinese servers.

Re:Agreed.. but why? (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786984)

I completely agree with you that the grandparent's quote was pretty ridiculous. However, I still don't think that what Google did was morally wrong (or evil, if you prefer to use that word).

Here's my reasoning: for an action to be "morrally wrong", you must first have a choice in whether or not to do the action, and Google obviously had a choice. Furthermore, for an action to be morally wrong, there must be a choice which is more morally right than the the alternative/s. One of the Exorcist remakes had a scene where a priest was forced by Nazis to choose a few people out of large group to die, and if he did not choose, then they would all die. I would argue that by choosing people to die, the priest did not do anything morally wrong because the alternative was worse (not to mention selfish because he is avoiding the pain of knowing that he killed the people he picked). IMO, this was analogous to the situation Google was in. Google could either choose to give some information to the Chinese people or none. By not providing the service, the Chinese people would could not get around the great firewall would be worse off, so Google's choice was the morally right decision.

Saying this does not mean that I advocate censorship. I think censorship is horrible, but it was the better option in this case since complete freedom of information was not a choice.

Re:Agreed.. but why? (3, Insightful)

Aglassis (10161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787274)

Since they would not be allowed to conduct business if they didn't allow this, I can't really see how what they did can be considered morally wrong.

The "Do no evil" policy doesn't just mean to do no evil when no profits are at stake (like randomly killing puppies). It means to do no evil even if profits are at stake.

Censoring people is morally wrong. When we start playing the game of "the ends justify the means" we start getting into flawed logic like that which started our recent Iraq War (i.e. it is OK to kill hundreds of thousands of people as long as you free their country--the ends justify the means).

Logically you are going to ask what would have happened if Google refused to do business in China. Another American company like Microsoft or even some other foreign company would have undoubtedly taken the place of Google. Their censorship may have been more or less strict. And from this you might think that Google is doing good because other companies could have been more evil. But then tell me why so many people think Haliburton is an evil company. They bring required services to Iraq and would certainly outperform many other companies. You might object and say that war profiteering is not the same as profiting from censorship, but I would disagree. Fundamentally, both companies are profiting from morally wrong actions.

Whether Google is doing less evil than other companies is unknown. But Google is undoubtedly doing evil. And this is not something I think people should start admiring. While the phrase "the ends justify the means" certainly sounds reasonable at first, it has a hidden assumption that has bitten most people who have used that phrase to justify their actions. That assumption is that you can predict the future. Saddam Hussein might have continued a brutal reign and continued policies of genocide and aggravating neighbors for another 30 years in which the international community could do nothing to stop. But then again he might not have. This is why so many people consider the Iraq War unjust. And this is why I consider Google's actions evil.

It was a nobel ideal. (2, Funny)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785868)



I would consider being evil a matter of perception?

Re:It was a nobel ideal. (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785886)

Of course I clicked submit in stead of preview.... Sorry.
Co-founder Larry Page said: "We always consider what to do. But I don't think we as a company should be making decisions based on too much perception."

I would consider being evil a matter of perception. I'm sure all the money Google has received tells them they aren't being evil though, so I guess thats whose perception they care about.

Smells like... (3, Insightful)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785870)

If they really consider the policy to be a net negative, they'd reverse the policy. You figure out what they really think about the policy and you come to the conclusion that this is just a PR move.

Re:Smells like... (4, Insightful)

Pendersempai (625351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785906)

Not the policy, the decision. They've already gotten the bad press, and the amount of good press they receive from reversing course will not make up for it.

Say you pick between two lines at the grocery store. By the time you're two-thirds of the way through the line, you realize it's moving more slowly than the other. Your decision was a net negative, but that doesn't mean you leave your line and join the other. Sometimes we make mistakes but have to stick with them.

Re:Smells like... (3, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786000)

Sometimes we make mistakes but have to stick with them.


Sure, like segregation. :P An extreme example, to be sure, but one I find as noxious as censorship. Considering what China does to dissidents, I personally feel any company assisting in keeping the oppressed from disseminating their beliefs is not one I choose to do business with.

Re:Smells like... (1)

limecat4eva (1055464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786066)

Then you'll be glad to know Google provides many of the most helpful tools for Chinese political activists to collaborate and spread their message. What do you think they use instead, Baidu?

Re:Smells like... (1, Interesting)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786198)

Then you'll be glad to know Google provides many of the most helpful tools for Chinese political activists to collaborate and spread their message.


Sure, guy. Limiting access [internetnews.com] to those blogs sure does help spread that message, doesn't it? Well, unless of course "human rights" or "democracy" are involved. Pesky human rights; they evidently have no value to Google. Democracy? What, you believe in controlling your own fate? Perish the thought. Groupthink is all the rage! Death to the unbelievers! ;)

This is another reason I've also been moving from Yahoo recently; turning over people who don't toe the "official" line is just plain wrong....and as for whether the Chinese are using Google vs. Baidu? According to these numbers, [iresearch.com.cn] yes. It looks like they ARE using Baidu, and that Google [publicly] wants to avoid taking them on. Whether those're just more Weasel Words [wikipedia.org] or not remains to be seen.

Re:Smells like... (1)

limecat4eva (1055464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786250)

Yes, and my point was that Baidu engages in such censorship too, only without the compunction and without the helpful notices. So I repeat: if not for Google, what better alternative would Chinese citizens have?

Re:Smells like... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786378)

Yes, and my point was that Baidu engages in such censorship too, only without the compunction and without the helpful notices.


Picture three supermarkets: One shoots its customers at random, at the drop of a hat. No signs, no notice; *BANG* THUD.
The second supermarket has clearly marked signs at the entrances: "Customers will be shot at random whilst shopping." You've given the customers notice of this, so all is well. Once again, every so often we'll hear *BANG* THUD.
The third supermarket doesn't shoot its customers.

Which would YOU shop at?

JUST because a Canadian company does something many consider unethical doesn't mean it's right for an American corporation to do so, or that it's suddenly the RIGHT thing to do.

So I repeat: if not for Google, what better alternative would Chinese citizens have?


How about freedom of speech? ;) You're missing *my* point here... I'm not asking which engine censors the least, nor am I suggesting any as such. I'm asking why censorship in corporate guise is any more acceptable or any different than when done directly by the Chinese government.

Re:Smells like... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786622)

Picture three supermarkets: One shoots its customers at random, at the drop of a hat. No signs, no notice; *BANG* THUD.
The second supermarket has clearly marked signs at the entrances: "Customers will be shot at random whilst shopping." You've given the customers notice of this, so all is well. Once again, every so often we'll hear *BANG* THUD.
The third supermarket doesn't shoot its customers.


Okay, how about an analogy that's slightly less flawed.

Picture three supermarkets. One claims to offer all of the products you would ever want, but in reality they don't carry anything organic, free from pesticides. If you ask, they assure you that such products do not exist. The second supermarket makes extra space on its shelves for the products it is not allowed to carry, giving you information about those products and the specific government regulations that forbade them from selling them to you. You are welcome to order the same foods from their identical stores in other countries if you're willing to wait a while longer for delivery.

The third supermarket offers every product you would ever want, but it is not allowed to exist in China.

Until Google came along, all of the supermarkets were of the first type. Google is the only company offering the second type in China. They decided this was better than the alternative, which was that the Chinese people wouldn't even know what they were missing. Thanks to Google, now they do.

Flawed Logic Ahoy (1)

infaustus (936456) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786756)

1.) In China in terms of this example, the third supermarket doesn't exist at all. 2.) Shooting customers is an extremely asanine analogy. If you are shot to death, you are going to remain dead forever. If you're censored at one point, you might get the information later. If there's a notice that you're being censored, you're now better off than before because you at least know that some things are being censored and have some idea of the frequency of censorship. If we're going to use your ridiculous analogy, the second supermarket would not be shooting its customers, there would be government agents hiding in the aisles waiting to shoot you while the supermarket posted warning signs labeling their positions. "I'm asking why censorship in corporate guise is any more acceptable or any different than when done directly by the Chinese government." If a man held a gun to your head, are you in the wrong when you pinch someone under his orders? You might say you shouldn't be there in the first place, but if the government would simply have someone else do it in that case it would have no effect. If the other people would overzealously decide to go further and kill or seriously maim the person in an attempt to appease the man with the gun, you'd even be causing a net benefit to your victims.

Re:Smells like... (2, Interesting)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786248)

I agree with you. I found the wording he used distressing. For the guys that promised to do no evil, they continue to parse their words like a Microsoft spokesman. Forget what their position has done on a business level, how about on a moral level. Perhaps I am just naive.

Re:Smells like... (2, Insightful)

gravesb (967413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786538)

They are losing money because of the practice. They could easily stop it, but they do not. It seems that they are doing it for a non-monetory reason. We can debate whether its a good policy or not, but at least it doesn't seem to be motivated by pure greed. Maybe they do believe some info is better than none, and they think they are doing good. Enough good to be worth losing money in other markets over it.

Re:Smells like... (2, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786554)

As long as they parse their words with the PRC just as much I don't mind. Sure the clear simple decision would be to refuse the Chinese market, until there is no censorship. Then they would be doing no evil, but they would also be in no position to do good for the people in China. As long as they are there, they can have influence. And seeing as they are in the informaion business, it is good business for them to slowly erode the censorship.

Re:Smells like... (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786752)

"Forget what their position has done on a business level, how about on a moral level. Perhaps I am just naive."

Kudos for asking the simple yet crucial question. In fact putting the accent on the business level of the decision is more evil than letting China have its way with censorship. That is a kind of propaganda for a money-based [a]moral system. Perhaps I'm just paranoid.

Re:Smells like... (1)

Pendersempai (625351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786566)

I agree with you. Perhaps I should have said "sometimes we make profit-damaging mistakes, but can nevertheless maximize profit by sticking with them."

Re:Smells like... (2, Insightful)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787092)

How about, like not using a condom because you ran out? The GP said "sometimes" as you can see from the quote you used in your post.

I personally feel any company assisting in keeping the oppressed from disseminating their beliefs is not one I choose to do business with.
You might not be American, but if you feel that way, then what are you doing to stop our government's censorship of information [slashdot.org]? Even worse than Google, the information we are being provided with is not just censored but doctored. Compare a US high school history book to one in another country, and you'll find a lot of differences. How about the teacher who was suspended for comparing Bush to Hitler [slashdot.org]? What about all the denied applications for information under the FOIA? If you want to say that these are all different situations with different considerations, you're absolutely right because censorship isn't black and white. Claiming that since Google censored some information in China means that they did something evil and horrible is a naive approach (and usually a hypocrytical one as well) to a complicated problem.

Re:Smells like... (1)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787310)

The fundamental problem with your argument is that we are not talking about the USA, we are talking about China, we are talking about Google, not the OP.

Even if we were, on Slashdot the opposition to such policies as you have mentioned happening in the USA is HUGE, so comparing the two will just get you a similar response. "Censorship is wrong." I am American, and the fact that Scientology and the DMCA corrupted Google search results offends me greatly. Google was around a number of years before the law went all crazy on us regarding that, but Google walked into China already knowing that the legal climate would require violating their principles at some point. That's at least a little different.

Cheers...

Re:Smells like... (5, Insightful)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786030)

Not the policy, the decision. They've already gotten the bad press, and the amount of good press they receive from reversing course will not make up for it.

Say you pick between two lines at the grocery store. By the time you're two-thirds of the way through the line, you realize it's moving more slowly than the other. Your decision was a net negative, but that doesn't mean you leave your line and join the other. Sometimes we make mistakes but have to stick with them.
You're right. Say I pick a fight with some poor kid. I'm beating the crap out of him, and he doesn't stand a chance. I've already made my evil decision, and the amount of good that I will do by stopping won't make up for it, so I keep beating the poor kid. Sometimes we make mistakes but have to stick with them, but when you are actively doing something wrong, you can stop at any time.

They can stop censoring at any time. They can refuse to do it. They can't undo the damage that has been done, but they can stop doing more.

The amount of credibility that they have lost so far is a sunk cost, but by continuing to do it, they are loosing more. Their argument is "we did something wrong, and we are still doing it because the amount of credit we will get for stopping isn't enough." That isn't an argument from principle. It's saying that they won't do the right thing because it doesn't gain them enough. They will gain more by staying evil than by being good, so that's what they choose to do.

Re:Smells like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786212)

Capitalism is about making the most money. Doing good has no value.

If you want social institutions and organizations to "do good" then you should find another economic system and mode of production...

But you like capitalism. So be quiet and go shopping.

Re:Smells like... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786478)

Capitalism is about making the most money. Doing good has no value. If you want social institutions and organizations to "do good" then you should find another economic system and mode of production...
Actually, I'm just holding them to the set of rules THEY [google.com] created for themselves. Note rules 6, 7, and 8. Sure, you can have all the wonderful info you want from Google, as long as you live within the US. Everyone else gets about half that.

Re:Smells like... (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787030)

Doing good has no value.

Now that's about the dumbest thing I've heard, and yet I keep hearing it. Do you really think that doing something good does not provide a company with positive PR? Can't positive PR lead to better brand recognition and loyalty? Can't brand recognition and loyalty lead to increased sales / popularity / use by customers? On the opposite side, the idea that doing something evil leads to money is just as ridiculous. If corporations are motivated by money, and doing good deads leads to more customers leading to more money, then why can't corporations be motivated by doing good things? I guess when you hear "corporations are only motivated by money" enough times, you start to believe it without even thinking about what that could mean.

Re:Smells like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786274)

They never said they did something wrong, merely that it wasn't a good movie business-wise. Your analogy doesn't apply, the shopping line one does better. All that was said is that they lost business here because of their policy on China.

Re:Smells like... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786464)

What damage?

China is censored. They have no choice if they want to service people in China. If they refuse to be censored, China does not get any Google at all. In fact, I'd consider they did more good by having a "this page has been censored by your fine government" notice at the bottom of the page than by simply not being there.

But oh no, it's Google! They're POPULAR! They can do no right!

Re:Smells like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786570)

You're right. Say I pick a fight with some poor kid. I'm beating the crap out of him, and he doesn't stand a chance. I've already made my evil decision, and the amount of good that I will do by stopping won't make up for it, so I keep beating the poor kid. Sometimes we make mistakes but have to stick with them, but when you are actively doing something wrong, you can stop at any time.
Poor analogy. You're conflating a net negative for business with a net negative for the Chinese people/morality. Google never claimed it was bad for the Chimese people. If you are claiming such a thing please explain how zero information or silently censored information is better for the Chinese people than openly censored information. In terms of the amount of information available to the Chinese, the third option (openly censored) is a net positive.

The amount of credibility that they have lost so far is a sunk cost, but by continuing to do it, they are loosing more.
Bad PR is not the same thing as a loss of credibility. You or anyone else can abhor with their actions without doubting their integrity, motives, or other credibility factors. Since their credibility appears to be nil with you already, I can't imagine they are actually continuing to lose credibility over this issue in any significant amounts.

Their argument is "we did something wrong, and we are still doing it because the amount of credit we will get for stopping isn't enough."
Their argument is "it was a bad business move, but we've already paid the cost, so we might as well get the benefit." Nowhere do they define these actions as evil and frankly, neither do I.

Re:Smells like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786842)

Hey, in the long run I guess "loosing more" is better than "losing more" though, right?

Re:Smells like... (1)

Ibag (101144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787170)

They said that it was a bad business decision, not a bad moral decision. If they don't see themselves currently engaged in something wrong, and if there is absolutely nothing to be gained by pulling out of the market (because they can't just not censor in china, it was either they censored or they couldn't be in the Chinese market), why would they pull out? The "damage" done was to their image, not to the people of China, and no more damage is being done. They are not constantly losing credibility, but by leaving China, they will lose a good deal of their investment in the country. It would be an utterly stupid business decision. From a strictly monetary point of view, they are better off staying in China and hiring well trained assassins to get rid of the people who would honestly care if they pulled out. They should just worry about not compromising their principles, they shouldn't worry about not compromising yours too.

Re:Smells like...a bad analogy (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786662)

Your grocery store analogy is a horrible way to justify not correcting an ongoing mistake.

If you are on a roadtrip and realize you've made a driving error what do you do? You figure out the road you should be on and then change your course immediately. You don't keep driving in the wrong direction.

Re:Smells like...a bad analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786906)

Still not exact.

You know the destination (a free society in China) but *no one* knows how to get there. You're not sure you're going the wrong way but then no one else is either.

You cut some people off to go this direction, while your reputation is about what a careful driver you are.

Who's to say the tactics (more information) will not eventually produce the goal (a free China)? Google seems to be very careful that it's information is NOT used by authorities to *enhance* the governments ability to repress their own people. There are no logs on the China proxies and there is no user information stored there.

Minor "evil": "people don't get all the information". Minor "good": "with Google they get more information than otherwise and there is no way for the government to use that information against their people."

I'd say it's a balanced and potentially successful tactic. Time will tell. And it takes time to get *anything* done in China.

Google is prepared to shut down and walk away from China in an instant if there is any indication that additional harm is being done.

China is a hard nut to crack. Xenophobia and nationalism going back thousands of years. At least they've not been imperialistic so far...

Many European countries and the U.S. censor as well, to varying degrees. Deny the Jewish Holocaust in some European countries and see where you end up sleeping. Sell some pictures with images of children in sexual situations in the U.S. and see how that works. China has a right to censor anything they want - here's the big "if". If their government was truly a representational government. Then it's the people censoring themselves, right?

Re:Smells like... (2, Insightful)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786056)

Alright here is how it works. The companies are not human beings they are not "nice" "evil" "good" or "bad". As much as we'd want them to be (and they do go to great lengths to make us think that they have such qualities), because it is just how we humans are, we want those who we do business with to be trustworthy so that is why we anthropomorphize entities that are not human. All a company is, is a money making machine, if it doesn't make money it stop existing.

Now as far as making money, a company that is perceived as being "good" "noble" and "not evil" will make more money. Microsoft probably didn't worry about that because they figured they could make a lot of money anyway...and they did. But now Google comes along and they figure that making themselves into a "good" company will greatly benefit them and will result in even greater profits than otherwise being a just an average IT company.

Google has gone to great lengths to build that image of itself. But that is what that it is, it is a marketing front! It is no more "good" than Microsoft. Or rather it is only as "good" as that perception keeps making them money.

So what Brin was saying in so many words is that "I would still like to keep the image of Google as being good by seemingly recanting the decision to censor in China but we will _not_ break that deal because it makes us money". It is indeed the best he could have said, because we can look at Google and say, "well at least they've sort of apologized for it, so they are still noble", and not too many of us will have the time or the resources to check and see if the actual deal was broken.

Re:Smells like... (1)

nuntius (92696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787160)

Alright here is how it works. The companies are not human beings they are not "nice" "evil" "good" or "bad". As much as we'd want them to be (and they do go to great lengths to make us think that they have such qualities), because it is just how we humans are, we want those who we do business with to be trustworthy so that is why we anthropomorphize entities that are not human. All a company is, is a money making machine, if it doesn't make money it stop existing.
B.S. A corporation is good in the same sense that a nation is good. If the majority of the people comprising it make sound, moral decisions, then it is good. If they make short-sighted, greedy decisions, then it is bad. Unfortunately, good != successful. The rest of your post confuses perception with reality.

One major problem is that the good people within a corporation can be replaced/overwhelmed by bad, and it may be hard for an outsider to tell the difference. Eventually, though, the corruption becomes obvious.

Re:Smells like... (1)

hugzz (712021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786326)

If they really consider the policy to be a net negative, they'd reverse the policy. You figure out what they really think about the policy and you come to the conclusion that this is just a PR move.

He said "On a business level, that decision to censor... was a net negative.". My interpretation is that the decision to censor in china hurt their business (ie money making ability), yet the fact that they continue to do it shows that although it causes them to lose money, they think that the moral benefits of their decision outweighs the monetary loss.

Don't forget that, although google censors in china, the search page provides information saying "results on this page have been censored" (not those exact words). The alternative would be for google to not exist in china at all. Some people consider it to be better to censor and tell people that they're censoring than to not be able to exist at all in China (and then people in China could only use search engines which censor but do not alert the user to this).

Good to hear (0, Redundant)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785872)

Maybe they'll consider the consequences of their actions the next time they have to make a similar choice...

Re:Good to hear (1)

Noishe (829350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786306)

But they DID consider the consequences...

Regardless of whether you think what they did was right or wrong, THEY did it because THEY thought it was RIGHT.

They didn't care about people boycotting them, because they knew that people would misunderstand. KNOWING that they would lose money by providing the chinese people with an efficiant search engine; KNOWING that they were the first and only search engine to inform the chinese when they were being censored; KNOWING that people in the west would boycott them and they would lose money; they still went ahead and did what they thought was RIGHT.

Schoolboy imprecision (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17785920)

Brin and Page still lack basic publicity support. The first press release generated coverage said, "GOOGLE FOUNDERS SUGGEST CHINA COVERAGE DAMAGED US". It hurt the United States? No, they meant "us", as in Google. Now, it's a "net negative". It's bad for the Net? Or do they mean, on balance, negative?

Damn! (5, Insightful)

El Gruga (1029472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785930)

We cant continue business unless we use slave labour....guess we'll have to use slave labour.

Re:Damn! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786010)

Of course, we need to stay competitive. It's just the free market working as it should.

Re:Damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786092)

But you left out something rather important:

Everyone else is using slave labor. (In China, censorship is standard; freedom of speech and religion and political parties and assembly etc. is not present.)

Put another way:

Do you think United States abolition would have come faster or slower if the blacks in the North were not free men? (Setting aside the level of freedom as blacks in the North were generally heavily restricted and comparable to whites were not give the same rights and privileges; still, they weren't slaves.)

Sometimes partial solutions are the way to go. With absolutism, sure, it's easy to point out what to do. Frankly though, that's a rather juvenile thought process, something that lacks complexity because one feels "the world must work the way I see it" or "these values I hold dear, you must also." China is a rather intriguing place, with different rules, mindsets, and perceptions to Western thought.

I'd much rather have Google there, pointing out censorship, and grabbing market share, and maybe slowly changing the tide. At the very least, there's likely pages that come up that teaches someone how to break firewalls, tunnel, etc. to work around censorship.

OTOH, you'd rather they not be there. In which case, the Chinese government would have simply chose aother option, likely one that didn't have critical mass, build it up, and offer it as a challenger to Google as well as absolutely control, with absolute nothingness given to their masses.

I'd know which I'd choose if I lived in China--the lesser of two evils.

Mod parent up! (1)

lxt518052 (720422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786674)

...With absolutism, sure, it's easy to point out what to do. Frankly though, that's a rather juvenile thought process, something that lacks complexity because one feels "the world must work the way I see it" or "these values I hold dear, you must also."... Well said!

They have nothing to admit or apologize for (5, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785942)

and I think, by virtue of the fact that they haven't actually changed what they're doing, that they agree.

Millions of Chinese Internet users have better access to information now than they would have if Google had decided to take "the principled position" and refuse to play ball. What seems to fly over the heads of people who advocate that position is that the result would not have been the Chinese government caving in and saying, "Okay, you're right, we shouldn't force you to censor." The result would have been "Okay, then you don't get to do business in our country," and, as much as that might make Westerners feel all warm and fuzzy inside (Hooray! We have held fast in the face of evil!) it would not be a good thing for the millions of people in China who are now able to use Google every day.

Further, not only would Google have been shut out of China, but a homegrown alternative would undoubtedly have taken its place -- and you can bet that the alternative would not have taken the pains Google has to point out to its Chinese users that their search results are in fact censored. That fact is spelled out in no uncertain terms on google.cn's search results pages: they say "" which means more or less "In order to comply with local regulations, some search results have been removed."

Google is helping millions of people more efficiently access information, and it is pointing out the existence of government interference with said information to people who might otherwise be unaware of it.

Taking their ball and going home would improve on that situation how, exactly?

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (1)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785968)

Bah, stupid Slashdot filtered out my Chinese characters. (Can't have anyone using Chinese in a discussion about China, now can we?) Go to google.cn and do a search for something and you'll see the message I tried to quote at the bottom of the page.

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786074)

Image search "oral sex" and you get none of the great images available to westerners, but you do get an iraqi prisoner abuse picture....

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786114)

I disagree that them censoring but being semi-open about it is better than the alternative. If they refused to censor, it would have drawn more attention to the issue if and when the government cracks down on it. It would have put some rare pressure on not only the government, but also other businesses who have similar policies. And I think it's arrogant of Google to think, "We are so good that even if we censor our service it just too important (profitable) to deprive these people of". They need to get over themselves. This is not an essential service when it is filtered how the government wants. (If it were uncensored, they might actually have a case for its importance.)

Further, not only would Google have been shut out of China, but a homegrown alternative would undoubtedly have taken its place
That's not very good moral justification, for obvious reasons.

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (2, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786402)

If they refused to censor, it would have drawn more attention to the issue if and when the government cracks down on it.
Whose attention? Western observers? They already know China censors the net, and they've already objected to it, and China has already ignored their objections. The Chinese? Not really -- the whole point of government censorship is that the government controls what people get to find out. Chinese net users would not read the "Google valiantly refused to bow down to censorship, and China booted them out!" stories we'd read; they'd instead get, at best, "After violating the law, Google agreed to withdraw their service for now." The average net user might not be happy about that situation, but it would be trivial to spin the news such that any ire people felt would be toward Google, not the government.

It would have put some rare pressure on not only the government, but also other businesses who have similar policies.
That kind of pressure, the Chinese government has shown no indication of caring about. They've shut down plenty of businesses for violating censorship rules before (independent newspapers, for example) so realistically, what reason is there to think they'd have any compunction about doing the same to Google? Can you name one example in the 50+-year history of the PRC where the government has caved in to pressure from a foreign company -- or even a foreign government -- in that area?

As for other companies, Google getting kicked out of China would more likely have exactly the opposite effect from the one you're hoping for: they wouldn't be shamed into doing the same, they'd breathe a sigh of relief and congratulate themselves for not being so foolish, and possibly redouble their censorship efforts to be sure they were steering clear of similar trouble. The only way other companies would move in the same direction would be if Google refused to censor and got away with it for an extended period of time. And China's recent history has very few examples (none that I know of, in fact) of that being a good bet to make.

[The possibility of a homegrown alternative is] not very good moral justification, for obvious reasons.
I think it's an excellent moral justification, unless one's concept of morality is that it should exist in a vacuum! Considering the likely eventual effects of one's possible courses of action and choosing the one that produces the most generally beneficial outcome is, to me, the very essence of moral reasoning.

That Google's choice is also the profitable one is good too -- but it's pretty easy to see that Google is not simply choosing maximal profit and justifying it after the fact. If they were, they would have Gmail servers in China rather than forcing Chinese users to use the ones in the US. They are voluntarily giving up webmail market share (hitting Gmail's servers from China is slow) in order to avoid having to turn over information about their users.

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (1, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786122)

The problem is that we are living in a world where rigid ideologies are infecting everyone, from President's and CEOs to janitors and doormen. Everyone thinks they know what's best for everyone in the world. Everyone has their personal little grand unified theory of everything, be it Catholic or Islam, Capitalist or Socualist, Democrat or Republican.

So when someone admits the real world is a place you have to sometimes make a comprimise (e.g. a censored Google is better than no Google for China), a lot of people are simply able to shift mental gears and deal with it. Their transmissions lock up and car analogies start exploding all over the place. ;)

Not that I'm a fan of this administration, but look at some of the threads on Slashdot about some government policies. It's always the Apocalypse and the Coming Of Big Brother even when it turns out the summary completely misstated the truth of the matter. I swear, the next person who suggests that nationally consolidated driver's ID cards are "the mark of the Beast' is going to get my boot to their head.

Parent is not flamebait (1)

lxt518052 (720422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786630)

He/she's actually got a point.

Absolute ideologies ARE harmful in that they care very little about the different real-life situations one could be in. They tend to give people a dangerously simple (or naive sometimes) set of glasses, through which everything in the world becomes either black or white.

For example, it is well known that in physics, a physicist tends to put his tested theory in the simplest form, and a lot of us would agree, simple is beautiful. But in engineering, when an engineer attempts to solve some real world problem using the physicist's theory, her solution will always involve some kind of compromise and will not get even remotely near the simplicity of the physics. If she doesn't deal with all the inevitable subtleties with such compromise, her application is going to fail.

What I'm trying to say here is, even to something as unambiguous as physics, the application of principle is not as obvious as one would expect. If a principle in science is like this, how can one expect ideologies, which subject its principles to a million different interpretations, to be applied on real life without any balanced consideration?

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (1)

thealsir (927362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787062)

Mod parent up. I don't know why it was modded flamebait (or, maybe it's just a reflection of what the poster is trying to point out.)

Idealism ends in an oven. Without balance, the world perverses itself.

These tenets are what should really be taught. Unfortunately, with the teachers being invested in the status quo and their own ideas, the war is likely to intensify.

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (2, Insightful)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786370)

Taking their ball and going home would improve on that situation how, exactly?

Well, you said it yourself:

The result would have been "Okay, then you don't get to do business in our country,"

Google does not want to "help", google wants to do business. I wonder where you get the notion that the Chinese people "might (otherwise) be unaware of" government censorship and repression - they live there, every day. Helping someone or some country to suppress and censor information is just what it is, no matter what you may call it: censorship. Do you even realize how cynical your post is? You sound as though you knew for sure what is "a good thing for the millions of people in China".

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (1)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786568)

I wonder where you get the notion that the Chinese people "might (otherwise) be unaware of" government censorship and repression
From dating a Chinese woman for a year and a half, and remaining friends with her now that she's living in Shanghai. From spending time in China myself. From observing countless discussions on the net where ordinary Chinese people say with a straight face that if the government is filtering anything, it's only immoral stuff they'd be better off not seeing. I'm not just pulling that notion out of my ass -- there are, without a doubt, a lot of Chinese who are aware of and concerned about government censorship, but there are vastly more of them who don't know about it in anything more than a vague sense and make no effort to find out about it. (Getting too interested in censorship issues in a totalitarian country is usually not the short path to a happy prosperous life.)

Helping someone or some country to suppress and censor information is just what it is, no matter what you may call it: censorship.
Totally agreed. And my point is that by refusing to go into China, Google would have done exactly that: made it easier for the Chinese government to suppress or censor information without people noticing, by virtue of the fact that baidu.com and the like don't even tell people they're doing exactly the same suppression of search results.

If you're trying to get me to admit that Google is practicing censorship, rest easy; I never disputed that. My claim is not that they are not censoring, but that the way they're doing it is, at the end of the day, producing a better situation than would exist if they were out of the picture completely. Not every instance of censorship is precisely equivalent, in either a practical or a moral sense.

Do you even realize how cynical your post is?
Is it cynical to base one's opinion on the available evidence? If so, then guilty as charged. As I said in another reply, please name one instance -- just one, is all I ask -- of the Chinese government relaxing its censorship in any way whatsoever in response to a foreign company's refusal to comply. If you can find one I'll happily eat my words, but I bet you can't.

You sound as though you knew for sure what is "a good thing for the millions of people in China".
*shrug* So do you, and so does everyone debating this issue.

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (1)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786902)

(Getting too interested in censorship issues in a totalitarian country is usually not the short path to a happy prosperous life.)

So is discussing the situation in China online from within the country ;) But I guess your online discussions are safely encrypted.

Not every instance of censorship is precisely equivalent, in either a practical or a moral sense.

Right, but I'm surprised that when it comes to doing business, moral is no category at all. Not even for those who are "not evil". Refusing to stay in the Chinese market would at least have been a signal, and it might have been more "helpful" if the Chinese asked themselves "Why is google pulling out?" than just seeing the "local regulations" notice every once in a while. They might actually have asked their government and authorities some more questions compared to the present situation (see link below).

please name one instance -- just one, is all I ask -- of the Chinese government relaxing its censorship in any way whatsoever in response to a foreign company's refusal to comply.

Not sure if there are any, but would public pressure from the Chinese population count? [cmp.hku.hk] I think it's not really a matter of making the government change its regulations, but merely a question of whether you want to take a tough stance - or just earn big bucks in a huge, promising market and bend your moral to serve that purpose. BTW, I don't know nor suggest what's good for the Chinese people, but I do dislike the way google handles this.

From dating a Chinese woman for a year and a half

OK, I'll buy into that... even though we're on /. (SCNR)

Re:They have nothing to admit or apologize for (1)

Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786670)

I wonder where you get the notion that the Chinese people "might (otherwise) be unaware of" government censorship and repression - they live there, every day.

But that's the funny thing about censorship. Of course the Chinese people know that they're being censored, but how are they supposed to know what is being censored?

Scared of us, but not scared enough to stop! (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786500)

All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. I get a little tired of heading apologists make the same arguments trotted out at Nuremberg. "If I didn't do it, someone else would."

Have you noticed this trend of corporate hand-wringing? They do something morally questionable in the interests of making more cash, then later say, "Gee... we feel bad about doing that..." But keep doing the same thing. It lends credence to theory that the "NGO Code of Conduct" recently reported on slashdot http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/78 402533/article.pl [slashdot.org] was a publicity stunt.

So they are scared of the bad publicity. Not scared enough to stop mind you, but scared enough to throw a few PR people at it. Reckon Brin made that decision off his own bat? They would have talked about it with their PR spokesweasels beforehand.

But if they are scared enough to do this, take heart. I still use Google beause it's (1) good, (2) free. But check out Altavista and the alternatives now and then. I've found Google limits some keyword searches where AltaVista doesn't. If you find better, you can drop Google as my favored brand in under 15 seconds.

This is a positive for Google (3, Interesting)

Serveert (102805) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785944)

How many other CEOs a) admit mistakes or b) state that dealing with the dictatorial regime in China is not in their best interest.

But it was amusing to see the rationalizations from the Google employees and apologists for effectively collaborating with the Chinese government. Justify it as you will, Google was collaborating with the Chinese government, working hand in hand, to censor information.

For a look at the absurdity, see:

http://www.google.cn/search?hl=zh-CN&q=tiananmen+s quare [google.cn]

Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square is one of the largest city squares in the world. It is located on the central axis of old ... The Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution are located on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square. ...

When they take google.cn down then this will mean something more - right now we just have words, actions don't reflect what Brin is saying.

Re:This is a positive for Google (3, Informative)

W2k (540424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786102)

It's still there. Just not in the obvious places. Try "tiananmen square student tanks" [google.cn].

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, June 4th Incident, or the Political Turmoil between Spring and Summer of 1989 by the government of the People's Republic of China, were a series of demonstrations led by students, intellectuals and labour activists in the People's Republic of China between April 15, 1989 and June 4, 1989. The demonstrations centred on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but large scale protests also occured in cities throughout China, such as in Shanghai.

Serveert makes a good point (2, Insightful)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786544)

Google apologists are saying "If Google didn't help the Chinese Government cover up the murder of 2,000 to 3,000 people, then someone else would"

But it's only covered up when everyone that controls the flow of information agrees to silence discussion.

I wonder if any 'Stealth Marketers' are present here?

Re:This is a positive for Google (2, Informative)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786710)

What's absurd is that Westerners have such a myopic view of China that they can't think of anything but a student protest 17 years ago when they hear the name of one of Beijing's most well-known landmarks. You may not have heard of Tiananmen Square before 1989, but the Chinese had -- the protests took place there in part because the place was already a well-known national symbol to them. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese visit Tiananmen Square every year.

Think St. Peter's Square or the Champs d'Elysee or Trafalgar Square or (to a lesser extent) the National Mall in Washington DC. When you Google "national mall" you don't get a page full of stories about Martin Luther King or Vietnam War protests or the Million Man March, but nobody seems to think that's absurd; when you do that search, chances are you care more about the place itself than about any particular historical event that took place there.

Which isn't to say that it's right for the Chinese government to force search engines to make it harder to dig up stories about that protest. (You might be surprised that a lot of Chinese do know about it, and simply don't consider it the source of outrage we Westerners do, but they should still be able to find out more about it without interference.) But honestly, the results Google returns on its home page are probably what most Chinese people actually want when they enter that search term. It's the English-language Google results for that term that are out of whack in my opinion.

Re:This is a positive for Google (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787052)

No, when I think of Tiananmen Square, I also think of public appearances there by Mao Zedong back in the early 1960's when they were starving the people in the countryside with ludicrious Stalinist practices like 'the great leap forward.'

I also think of May Day Parades while '100 flowers are being cut' lipsynched to 'let 100 blossoms bloom.'

Etc. etc.

It's also probably a public space where occasional events not stained in insane Stalinist doctrine occur.

It's not Googles fault (5, Insightful)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785950)

Censorship is the fault of the Chinese government, All Google ever did was respect and abide by the laws of the country they're trying to do business in. If you don't like then the censorship then you should chase after the government not the business. In fact it would have been a very bad decision for Google NOT to do business in China because it is a HUGE market.

Re:It's not Googles fault (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786640)

China doesn't have laws in any sense of the word. For law to be different from banditry, it must respect the rights of individuals. China doesn't, so its laws deserve no ones respect.

What about war in Iraq? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17785980)

Was it damaging or actually good for business [antiwar.com]? Will the forthcoming war in Iran be good for Google business?

Just asking, that's all.

China is not unique (4, Insightful)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786072)

Google censors results from Americans at the request of the American government. We don't talk about it because the vast majority of people in the country despise the distasteful type of search results they filter. But nevertheless, if you truly believe in free speech, it is hypocritical to suggest that limiting one type of speech is ok while limiting another is not.

See this [chillingeffects.org], this [chillingeffects.org], or for more general information, chillingeffects.org [chillingeffects.org].

Yes, there are terms you can use on google that will produce an error message ("some results have been censored due to legal request; for more information see chillingeffects.org.") Get creative, and you'll see it.

I'm not blaming google; they must follow the law of the land. Nevertheless, there you have it.

Re:China is not unique (1)

limecat4eva (1055464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786312)

Well, we Westerners like to believe that our values are better, because of course they just are. Did you know that Google helps South Koreans find tasty kittens for dinner? Where's the outrage? Where's the boycott?

Re:China is not unique (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786466)

outrage? over helping to kill kitties? That's a good thing. Damn demon spawn deserve it.

Re:China is not unique (2)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786338)

"Google censors results from Americans at the request of the American government. "

None of the articles you link offer any evidence of this being done systematically. Do you have particular search terms or articles talking about specific searches that result in this message that doesn't stem from a temporary injunction or something under appeal?

Negative.... for BUSINESS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786168)

You people need to stop talking about this like its a "PR" move. They DID NOT SAY it was "negative for chinese people". All they said was that it was "negative for profits."

I hope they do make a change now. Not just for the Chinese people's sake, but so I can know that Google was OK with censoring people, up until the moment it hurt their profits.

Way to go.

Ayn Rand-ians, please don't tell me that if Google changes their ways because of lost profits, the "system worked." I hope every person involved in censoring China gets their library cards taken away.

I submitted this article (0, Troll)

drix (4602) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786380)

But I titled it "Sergey Brin turns into a corporate douchebag." "On a business level, that decision to censor... was a net negative." I think I speak for a lot of people here when I say, wtf is that shit? I can think of a few more, say, pressing reasons [clearharmony.net] why abetting the oppressive regime in China is fucked than the good ol' bottom line. Don't be evil my ass.

Sigh. Sergey, we barely knew ye.

Easy "Cyberspace Bypass"..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786398)

All you need to do is find an offshore shell portal and submit your Google searches throuh them.

ProxyBox is used by some Chinese searchers and is an easy way to get around the blocks tht schoold put on MySpace.

It is more ethical to use MSN now!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786452)

They don't censor shit...

It's never too late to do the right thing. (5, Insightful)

gklinger (571901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786488)

The reporter concludes that Google is unlikely to revise its Chinese censorship policy any time soon.


An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it." --Orlando A. Battista

Re:It's never too late to do the right thing. (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787048)

Mod parent up.

And for what it's worth, the China censorship thing was the main reason I "left" Google (as in, closed my gmail account and all my other personalised services).

Typo (2, Insightful)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786556)

"Google Admits China Censorship Was Damaging"
Google Admits China Censorship Publicity Was Damaging

All fixed.

The censorshop is working! (4, Insightful)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786596)

I'm going to steal this from Jimmy Wales. It's significant for two reasons.

Paragraph 1. It's not just Tiananmen, but every other dirty thing the Chinese Government is doing they've helped suppress. Who are they holding this information from? Not you or I, but from the Chinese Public. They're helping the Chinese Government spread lies.

Paragraph 2. It's worked! Today Young Chinese don't believe Tiananmen ever happened. Mission Accomplished, Google! They are having a related problem in Cambodia where young people don't believe the Killings Fields ever happened.

"In January 2006, Google agreed to censor their mainland China site, Google.cn, to remove information about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre [3], as well as other topics such as Tibetan independence, the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong and the political status of Taiwan. When people search for those censored topics, it will list the following at the bottom of the page in Chinese, "According to the local laws, regulations and policies, part of the searching result is not shown." The uncensored Wikipedia articles on the 1989 protests, both in English and Chinese Wikipedia, have been attributed as a cause of the blocking of Wikipedia by the government in mainland China.

In 2006, the American PBS program "Frontline" broadcast a segment filmed at Peking University, many of whose students participated in the 1989 protests. Four students were shown a picture of the Tank man, but none of them correctly identified the person or the event depicted. Some responded that it was a military parade, or an artwork. This is reflective of either strong censorship of the event in mainland China, or the effectiveness of political indoctrination such that students feigned ignorance to an American journalist."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_prot ests_of_1989 [wikipedia.org]

Re:The censorshop is working! (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787188)

Google faced a choice. As a company, it was not good for them to lose customers because their site was unavailable at times because of the 'Great Firewall of China'. So they decided to put some servers in China.

As an employer, they would put many people at risk if they did not comply with the laws of China. Brin and co, from their luxurious offices at the googleplex, would not be affected by any backlash in China. Their employees could face jail time or even death if China deemed their actions to be subversive. So they decided to steer clear of that. Note that other companies had to hand over information to the authorities because in china, you have to comply with their laws (Yahoo comes to mind). Google would have been in the same position. Would you rather they a) ratted on troublemakers or b) sacrificed their own employees. Make no mistake, if the government wants to punish someone, they will find someone.

As a provider of a quality service, they did not think it was a good idea to have links that pointed to sites that 'did not exist', which is how these would seem to a casual Chinese browser. So they tell them instead that the information is censored in accordance with applicable laws.

Lastly, they left google.com accessible to the Chinese. In the uk, if try to go to google.com, it redirects me to google.co.uk. In China, it goes to google proper, and they can get the links to the sites that 'don't exist' there.

I would say, given the situation, the could probably not have done any better, besides leaving China in a huff.

I disagree (3, Insightful)

EatingSteak (1053512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786604)

I do not believe the move to censor was bad overall for Google. It's not like they were faced with the choice of (a) censor or (b) not censor. The choice was (1) present censored material, or (2) abandon ship. No heads are rolling on account of Google, which is more than can be said for their competitors [bbc.co.uk]. And it's not like they're selling them Nukes [slashdot.org] or anything I very strongly disagree with the statement that they abandoned their 'policy of "Don't Be Evil". They're not. Bull shit. China's demands of a censored search engine are evil. Google is not being evil. China is evil. I think you would have to be really shortsighted to actually blame Google for this [1]. I do not think any less of Google. I think less of china. And I applaud Google for making at least something available there.

That aside, I think their decision to go into China was definitely good for society/the world as a whole. Besides the obvious benefits of Chinese people having more information (albeit biased) available, I think it was good to draw more attention to (a) their censorship program, (b) the censored material, and (c) the evilness of the Chinese government.

(a) The rest of the world can see that it exists, and to what extent. It's easier to find out what material is being censored.
(b) There are obviously loopholes. I don't know of any in particular, but I'm sure a large amount of information slips through. There's no way you can get a bullet-proof censor of the whole internet. Also, the rest of the world can see actual content that was censored (what really happened/why was it censored anyway?)
(c) This should be self-explanatory. At least it increases awareness of what they're doing. I had a friend that did a semester abroad in China (Univ of Beijing). He said it was bad there. Really bad. Apparently "George Washington" is an unacceptable name there. The problem was, he wanted to go to (God forbid) George Washington University for grad school. The problem was, he couldn't access anything from there online, he said his mail was checked. It was such a pain that he ended up giving up applying there because the name of the university was so hard to get through their shit political system. I think the censorship program just makes situations like this come under more fire. And rightfully so. Go Google!

[1] Maybe that's the problem. People will believe any mumbo jumbo [youtube.com] you throw at them. My parents are no exception. "Oh Google is censoring/ They shouldn't do that". That's not even half of the story. People are idiots. If this actually did/will hurt Google, that will be the only reason.

fro5t pis7. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786676)

Website. Mr. de And building is Were nullified by code.' Don't We strongly urge stand anymore, bootoms butt. Wipe FUCKING USELESS

Sounds familiar (1)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786834)

So, we made a decision, and it was wrong. It was a bad call. And now that we're going to keep doing the exact same thing wrong thing, you're mad at us? We expected more from you. We thought you were smarter than this.

Squashing mod points... (0, Redundant)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787068)

... but google seems a little bit "evil" here, and they seem to admit it.
Now mod me down and be off with it - don't forget to put on that blinker.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...