This is only my opinion, and not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.
We had previously reported that Google might be planning a search engine that is specific to China. If this is true hasn’t been determined yet, but if it is, what does this mean? As we previously reported, China doesn’t allow its citizens to look up certain topics – like human rights. Censorship is huge in China and while that is certainly a topic that I’d be happy to explore in more detail at a later time, that’s not exactly what I want to talk about. I do, however, want to talk about how Google plans to obey these laws? The answer might surprise you. It’s being reported that Google has been using 265.com, in order to help develop a blacklist for search terms in China.
265.com is a hybrid information and search portal that Google acquired back in 2008. Google has been using this to supposedly collect information about search queries. These are technically redirected to Baidu, to see if they would be censored, but it feels a bit shady. According to a report by Intercept, Google has been using a tool known as BeaconTower to see if the final destinations of these searches would survive the Great Firewall. If they didn’t, Google would exclude them from the first page of results in its prototype Chinese search engine. Because of this, Google doesn’t have to spend much time wondering about what it can and can’t show. For example – acknowledging the Tiananmen Square massacre, or the recent disappearance of activist Dong Yaoqiong.
But let’s talk about this particular aspect for a moment, shall we? You all know too well that I am a strong proponent of free speech. Even if the free speech isn’t particularly nice or even true. Everyone has the right to their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions on topics. I do not have to agree with them to understand this principle. While I said I wasn’t going to make this into a rant about China, I do want to gain a better understanding of why Google is doing this? Is it just a business opportunity for them? If it is, I wonder if the money that they’re going to get from this venture is enough to warrant suppressing someone’s right to freedom of the press. I acknowledge that these laws are different in other countries, but I guess I see it as a fundamental right.
Not to mention, the things that are currently being blocked are things that are part of history. Why don’t citizens have the right to educate themselves on their own country’s history? While the Chinese government, in my opinion, is in the wrong about blocking these searches, I think Google is just as complicit by enabling it. I recall a saying from when I was in elementary school which was “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. Meaning, if you see something going on at school (like a fight), if you don’t do anything to try to stop it, you’re just as bad as the people fighting. And isn’t that what’s going on here? Google is part of the problem. They certainly aren’t helping and I’m extremely shocked to learn that they’re considering a censored search engine in China. I hope that I’m wrong, but this is getting a lot of buzz, and Google isn’t denying it.