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Google on an anti-communist crusade?

Or maybe they’re just sore losers

Published Apr 2, 2010 4:05 PM

The headlines have proclaimed that Google has “quit” China in a “battle over censorship.”

That’s what Google told the capitalist media, so that’s what’s been reported.

There’s no fine print in these reports. For example, only the search part of Google’s operations is involved. Other Google business operations in China are continuing. And Google didn’t quit China; the search operation was moved to Hong Kong, which is part of China.

In Hong Kong, Google’s search operations are under different local laws. Uncensored? Not really. As PC World reported March 24, Google “blocks content such as porn and profanity.” It’s not that Google doesn’t censor its search results.

In fact, Google has a history of working with governments and police authorities, including censoring its search results. Searches for information on attacking the U.S. government, for example, will turn up heavily censored results.

In India, Google has opened up search results to censorship by the police authorities. “Google is training police in India on how to find ‘objectionable’ material and remove it from Google,” the Inquisitr reported on Sept. 24, 2008. (www.inquisitr.com)

Google even helped the police arrest a man who had anonymously posted the message, “I hate Sonia Ghandi” [sic].

Google said this was done at its own initiative. Vinay Goel, head of products for Google India, said, “You don’t want to stifle the freedom of speech and yet, [you do want to] ensure that people are working within legal boundaries, are within the sensitivities of that culture. So if you find something offensive, flag it. We will review it. We have very specific terms and conditions and if that is violated by the user, we will bring it up. This model has worked well.”

Evidently Google doesn’t really have a problem with censoring search results, working with governments, following local laws, even helping to arrest someone who says simply that they hate the country’s top politician.

But what Google does hate is not winning.

Google has a world monopoly, almost. In all parts of the world, except in China, Google is the Internet. Google made a big push to also capture China. They bet big — and lost.

China has more than 400 million Internet users and almost a billion cell phone users. All use a search engine. The big search engine in China is Baidu, which services about 70 percent of all users.

Few used Google.cn

In China, anyone can use Google.com, the U.S.-based search engine that is not “censored” by Chinese law. But Google.com’s servers are in the U.S., so the response time in China is very slow. Google.cn was opened to provide faster results. When people in China search using Google, they mostly use Google.com. The Google.cn site never gained more than 2 percent of the search market. This is the site that Google has now shut down and is redirecting to Google.com.hk.

Few used Google.cn because the results were unsatisfactory. Blogger Jason Yu in “Google vs. Baidu: A User Experience Analysis” wrote that Google.cn results too often “direct us to Web sites that use traditional Chinese characters, which are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and by the overseas Chinese community” (posted June 2, 2008, www.globalbydesign.com). In mainland China everything is done in simplified Chinese. It would be like Google.com redirecting all search results in English to Web sites in Chaucer’s Middle English. Unreadable.

In a report on National Public Radio here, a Chinese scholar said that the only people he knew in China who used Google were those searching for results in English.

Anyway, Google has been losing ground from its high of 30 percent of China’s users in 2005. Now it is calling it quits. The rest of what it says may be just a big show to cover its tracks while fleeing.