Google Censorship in China
As a follow-up to yesterday’s entry, I thought I would explore the censorship that Google was enacting in order to appease the Chinese government. The protests and ensuing violence that took place near Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989 are a taboo topic in China and only the views of the party are allowed to be disseminated. Many of you would think this would be one of the first things to be censored.
Search Engine Watch posted a side-by-side comparison of images.google.com and images.google.cn doing a search for tiananmen using the western character set. Yes, there seems to be some censorship going on there. They suggest that you mis-spell tiananmen (change the a’s to e’s) at which point you will have defeated the english censorship. While that is interesting, it’s not realistic of how a Chinese gal sitting behind a computer is going to do a Google search.
I think I have my translation proper that Tiananmen = 天安門 – it’s the gate of heavenly ascension. When you execute this search, you will notice towards the bottom of the first page what looks like stain in the shape of a human body. If you click through, you will find a Japanese page with all sorts of images of crushed bicyclists, tanks, the access road to Tiananmen Square, etc. Based on the results, I guess my Chinese translation is correct.
So what is being censored? Based on my non-scientific approach, it is hard to say. My assertion yesterday was that the Chinese wanted to preclude its citizens from creating and viewing sites that promote unrest and revolt against the government. There is probably more to it, but I don’t think it is as clear cut as the paranoid American society wants to make it.