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Google Admits China Censorship Was Damaging 205

Posted by kdawson
from the not-being-evil dept.
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.
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Google Admits China Censorship Was Damaging

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  • Agreed.. but why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by x_MeRLiN_x (935994) * on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:33PM (#17785860) Homepage
    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.
    • by j_philipp (803945)
      > 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by utopianfiat (774016)

      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

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Nazlfrag (1035012)
        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
      • 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
        • by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Saturday January 27, 2007 @11:47PM (#17787818) Homepage Journal

          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.
          I think the points you make are quite right, but they ignore one key fact: uncensored, U.S.-based google.com was available in mainland China prior to Google's introduction of the censored version, around 90% of the time. What they gained, by adding a censored Chinese version, was the ability to do business in China, and therefore sell ads and draw revenue from their Chinese users.

          Google admitted as much in their blog at a time, when they admitted that the U.S. page was still accessible to Chinese users most of the time. The decision wasn't "censored or nothing," it was "revenue or less revenue?" Google didn't compromise for the good of the Chinese people, they compromised in order to tap into the fat revenue stream that they would have otherwise missed.

          With Google's technical skills, they almost certainly could have kept their page accessible to Chinese users most of the time, had they really wanted to. But doing so would have meant missing out on much of the revenue from that market, since money is a lot easier to restrict than Internet traffic. They made a straightforward choice: money, or ideals? They chose money.

          I, personally, do not fault them for this; I think most people, given a choice between their "ideals" and money, would do the same thing. The only thing I think they're guilty of is hypocrisy. Had any other company done the same thing, I wouldn't have blinked an eye: most companies seek nothing but profit at any cost, and don't act any better than you would expect from such goals. (And many have done well by such dealings; the public has a short memory -- you can use a man for slave labor, then later sell cars to his grandchildren, and nobody will think less of you. Such is the world we live in.) However, Google billed itself, both to investors and the public, as having higher motives, and when they were put to the test they failed dismally.

          There is no comparison between Google, and your hypothetical priest, because Google had a third option: they could have walked away from the dilemma, and simply refused to offer a censored version of their service, told their investors that they could not accept advertising revenue from China in clear conscience while maintaining their principles, and attempted to give Chinese users the best uncensored service that they could provide.

          They didn't.

          When it came time to choose between money and idealism, money won. For what it's worth, I'm fine with it, I just wish they would be more direct about their decisions and state their motivations more directly. It's only mildly irritating to see evil done these days, but it's substantially worse to see evil done while under the banner of good.

          If your motive is profit, seek profit, and don't clothe your amorality behind a facade of good intentions. You can only have one primary goal. If you want profit, and profit leads you to deal with the Nazis, the Chinese, or the Devil himself, be proud; at the end of the day, at least you can say you didn't compromise, and you followed the path you had chosen to its end. Google can't even say that. They chose a direction, or so they say, but veered from it when the going got tough.
          • Ok, I can see where you're coming from for the most part. But if you want bring up the fact that China had access to the regular Google site 90% of the time, then what difference does it make if Google gives a censored version the other 10% of the time? 90% of the time, the people who had access to Google's regular site still have access to it, but the 10% of the time that they don't they have access to a censored version. This is still more information than if there is only the regular Google version.
            • Ok, I can see where you're coming from for the most part. But if you want bring up the fact that China had access to the regular Google site 90% of the time, then what difference does it make if Google gives a censored version the other 10% of the time? 90% of the time, the people who had access to Google's regular site still have access to it, but the 10% of the time that they don't they have access to a censored version. This is still more information than if there is only the regular Google version.

              Becau
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aglassis (10161)
      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
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by misleb (129952)

      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.

      Ok, lets take this to a logical extreme. Lets say that I can profit by joining a group that tortures people for money. And I can't join unless I also torture people. Is it not morally wrong to torture people in this case, if I can

  • by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:33PM (#17785868) Homepage


    I would consider being evil a matter of perception?
    • 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... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JoshJ (1009085) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:34PM (#17785870) Journal
    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... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pendersempai (625351) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:40PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UncleTogie (1004853) *

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mordors9 (665662)
          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gravesb (967413)
            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: (Score:3, Interesting)

            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: (Score:3, Informative)

              by rtb61 (674572)
              They sell advertising, your telling me that is of great value and will improve society !!??. How can anybody in a democratic society that supposedly supports freedom and democracy turn around and say it is appropriate to censor freedom and democracy in other countries. I know those people in other countries aren't really human, so as long as you get cheap shit, whether the workers have access to freedom and democracy or are just slave labour does not make a difference.

              Google can apologise all it wants to,

          • "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.
        • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by krotkruton (967718)
          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. Compa
          • 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 wen
            • You're right, it is different, which was part of my point. I agree that most people on slashdot have just as much of a problem with the Google situation as they do with some of my examples, but I wonder how many people would say the same thing when information is actually a matter of national security. I'm not talking about the bullshit that is classified as national security nowadays, but stuff that the majority of people would agree would be better kept secret (which, of course we wouldn't know about, b
      • Re:Smells like... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KillerCow (213458) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @06:00PM (#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.
        • by Ibag (101144)
          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 b
      • 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.
      • Sometimes we make mistakes but have to stick with them.

        True, but before deciding, evaluate the facts.

        Fact, the nice new printer from Dell looks nice, but the ink can not be bought localy, the carts are 1/4 the size of the competetors, and you have to pay S & H to get them. They make no claims to how much ink is in a cartridge or estimated page yield.

        Getting the printer was a mistake. Ordering ink for it would have been a second mistake. Kept my old printers instead.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drgonzo59 (747139)
      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 i
      • Your post is an application of the is-ought problem [wikipedia.org]. The fact of the matter is that corporate charters are granted by the government, and it is only the current state of government that a corporation is only required to make as much money as possible with no consideration for social responsibility. This was not always the case, and many people disagree that it is good so it could very well change someday. While I don't disagree that in a very abstract sense a corporation cannot be "good" or "bad," real peop
      • by evilviper (135110)

        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.

        I have no doubt taking this view of the world is how investors sleep at night.

        The fact of the matter remains that companies are good and evil. Some will stop at nothing to make money. Others will make (less) money, on principle.

        There are a great many companies out there, making f

    • by hugzz (712021)

      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

    • by bhsx (458600)
      Everyone seems to be ignoring the giant elephant in the room. The move to censor China's Google portal hurt them "in Western Countries."
      The move to be in China at all has MORE than made-up for that discrepancy. They lost a little Western market share to pick-up a billion NEW users.
      I don't see any other way to read this, yet noone has brought it up.
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:35PM (#17785876)
    ... but the dumplings were delicious.
  • Damn! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Gruga (1029472) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:45PM (#17785930)
    We cant continue business unless we use slave labour....guess we'll have to use slave labour.
  • by koreth (409849) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:47PM (#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?

    • by koreth (409849)
      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: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      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 p
      • 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

        • Physics is just as infected. Try to get a research postion that isn't about string theory.
        • > People who dislike China tend to mention Tiananmen Square a lot, but they always forget the Tank Man is also a Chinese.

          I think people are smart enough to tell the difference between the ones doing the shooting and the ones getting shot at.

          People are smart enough to distinguish between a government and the public at large. Governments go off and do their own thing. The public don't have a choice. Democracy? Some of us get to vote every 4 years between 2 parties which are nearly identical and have the sa
          • by lxt518052 (720422)
            I think people are smart enough to tell the difference between the ones doing the shooting and the ones getting shot at.

            It's a simple fact, isn't it?

            I assume everybody is capable of telling it. But whether people bother to tell it, is another question. One quickly loses his/her ability to reason when some strong emotion is mobilized. That's how the neo-conservatives, in fact, most politicians, get their way.

            Certainly the average American people has more power than the average Chinese, and arguably ave

            • > I assume everybody is capable of telling it. But whether people bother to tell it,
              > is another question. One quickly loses his/her ability to reason when some strong
              > emotion is mobilized. That's how the neo-conservatives, in fact, most politicians, get their way.

              These days people travel a lot. It's common to meet backpackers and students from other countries.
              We have the Internet to communicate with each other. It changes perceptions. I hope most people
              realize the rest of the world are a lot like
              • by lxt518052 (720422)
                Thanks for your comment. If you check my previous posts, you know we share quite a lot common thoughts. "1984" was written long time ago, yet weaknesses of human being have changed very little.

                I agree if people from different countries get to know each other face to face, they are more likely to find the stereotypical perception to be wrong. That's part of the reason I'm on slashdot.

                I'm not going to criticize either the current US administration or the general public. Others have done that much better th

      • by thealsir (927362)
        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.
      • Parent has a point. The moderation is wrong, and just shows that Slashdot is absolutely infested with these sort of ironclad ideologies. Their fallout is news that is hyped up beyond its merits.

        Far too many stories are sensationalized for their own sake. This is incredibly sad for a site that is supposed to be for nerds. And in the unlikely event a story hasn't been spun this way in the summary, there is always some extremist blowhard in the comments who either:
        1. Wildly speculates about an uncomfortable fu
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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

      • by koreth (409849)

        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 tha

        • (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 i

      • 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?
    • 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 slashd
  • by Serveert (102805) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:48PM (#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.
    • by W2k (540424) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `suilesnevs.mlehliw'> on Saturday January 27, 2007 @06:13PM (#17786102) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • by nkh (750837)
      I think that Google should stay out of China if they want to be honest with their "no evil" policy but they still provide a lot of infos about the massacre if you use the other spelling of "Tienanmen": http://www.google.cn/search?hl=zh-CN&q=tienanmen+s quare [google.cn] Did they forgot to censor it or what?
    • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by koreth (409849)
      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 Tr

  • by MadnessASAP (1052274) <madnessasap@gmail.com> on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:48PM (#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.
    • 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.
    • Not only that, as long as Google complies with the DMCA, they are engaging in censorship in our own country.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)
      So what if the law in China required a human sacrifice to complete a transaction? Would Google get a free pass because "that's the cost of doing business in China"? That's completely ridiculous, but the censorship issue is a good deal more nuanced than that, and your comment reads as if there isn't any nuance to sort out at all.

      You could even argue that they would have a responsibility to shareholders to be doing business there, sacrifices or not, but society would probably step in and say 'Nope, you don't
    • by evilviper (135110)

      All Google ever did was respect and abide by the laws of the country they're trying to do business in.

      That's true, and it makes it legal, but it certainly doesn't make it right.

      A company like Google, which puts so much effort into good PR, deserves to be raked over the coals for doing things like this.

      In fact it would have been a very bad decision for Google NOT to do business in China because it is a HUGE market.

      I see. So now it's "Don't be evil, unless lots of money is on the line." ?

    • by stinerman (812158)
      Segregation is the fault of the US government ... and you can see where this is going.

      Censorship is indeed the fault of the Chinese government. It is also the fault of Google for aiding and abetting China in their censorship program.

      In fact it would have been a very bad [business] decision for Google NOT to do business in China because it is a HUGE market.

      That is what you really meant. Some of us believe that the correctness of an action is not simply a function of the profit it will generate.

      Hey, if the

    • > 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.

      When IBM installed and programmed card machines to sort out the Jews and Gays, they were thinking just like you.
      http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0213/black.php [villagevoice.com]

      All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing, and greedy ones to say they're just following the laws in the country they're trying to do business in. Just because
  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @06:08PM (#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.

    • by aldheorte (162967)
      "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?
    • by stinerman (812158)

      Google censors results from Americans at the request of the American government.
      Yes, and they are wrong to do so.

      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.
      Indeed it is. But I believe that it is best to concentrate efforts of eliminating censorship in places where the censorship is most profound.
  • :p It was on the Google Toilet Stalls [slashdot.org]
  • by gklinger (571901) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @07:11PM (#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

    • by Kris_J (10111) *
      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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duncan3 (10537) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @07:20PM (#17786556) Homepage
    "Google Admits China Censorship Was Damaging"
    Google Admits China Censorship Publicity Was Damaging

    All fixed.
  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @07:25PM (#17786596) Journal
    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]
    • by smoker2 (750216)
      And you somehow believe that the western world is immune to this indoctrination ?

      I was watching a tv program the other day called "Weapons of World War 2" on the history channel. They have shows about tanks, fighter planes, submarines etc. This particular show was about aircraft carriers. At the beginning of the show, they showed pictures of the modern US carriers with the voice-over saying that "todays modern self contained carriers can strike at the heart of terrorism where-ever it may be in the world".

      W

      • > And you somehow believe that the western world is immune to this indoctrination ?
        > But somehow, when it's China involved, manipulation of information is the worst thing in the world. Take a look closer to home.

        On the contrary, I agree with you. Look at Iraq.

        We have a huge problem with a corporate media telling us what to think (Hi, Rupert), but we do have basic protections like free speech which the government hasn't taken away from us... yet. The Internet makes it wonderfully hard for them to even
  • I disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EatingSteak (1053512) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @07:26PM (#17786604) Journal
    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.
  • 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.
  • by br00tus (528477) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @10:08PM (#17787358)
    I can connect to Google France [google.fr], Google Japan [google.co.jp], Google Germany [google.de] and so forth. I used to be able to connect to Google China [google.cn] - you can even see it in google.com's search for Google China and the cache for it. But nowadays, it just redirects to Google.com. They don't want Westerners able to see what people can and can't search for in China. So what else is new, the corporate stooges are saying BS to the press, while in the back they are continuing to do what they do and are attempting to hide what they are doing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dtfusion (658871)
      I live in the US. I can get to google.cn and use it. Try searching "tianamen square" (note deliberate misspelling). 2nd hit is Wikipedia article on Tiananmen Square and the protests and massacre there. This is the same as the first hit searching from US google.com I've heard this is the case for many other proscribed searches. Not to defend what google did, but it seems they did the minimum the law required them do to and the info is still there if you're a little creative.
      • by r3m0t (626466)
        That's google.com in Chinese, not google.cn in censored Chinese.

        No wonder you can get Wikipedia.
    • being modded insightful.

      Come on, moderators, if only you had bothered to click on that link, you would have known what the post said was not true.

      I can visit google.cn from UK. I use it almost everyday, along side google.co.uk. I don't get redirected to google.com in either case.

      Others reported from Europe and USA that they didn't get redirected either.

      If google don't redirect traffic from Europe and USA, why should they redirect that from anywhere else? Give me a reason.

      The bottom line is, this guy d

  • 'On a business level, that decision to censor... was a net negative.'"

    Were that true then this could *not possibly happen*: The reporter concludes that Google is unlikely to revise its Chinese censorship policy any time soon.

    Why? Because Google is publically traded. The shareholders could sue the pants off him and the the Google executive team. "Net Negative" meant *losing* money, which means something that, as a business, they would want to fix ASAP.

    So, what did they guy REALLY mean when he says that?
  • Google admitted that they have net loss now (minus in West due to political backlash ourweighs pluses in China market), but they see the growth of Chinese market outweighing the growth in West, so they foresee how this minus is turning to plus in the future.

    So, economically, yes, it is a smart move.

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