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Google Images Censored in China
January 30, 2006 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Google Images Censored in China A picture says 1000 words, and Google.cn is censoring them all. Check out the side-by-side screens of a search for "tiananmen+square" in Google.com and Google.cn images. Looks like a nice place, with little historical significance. You can try the search yourself. The text on the bottom left is the censorship disclaimer. Very different than our results. A far cry from Google's claim that they do not censor results. Nice to know that they stand up to the government here but not abroad.

A good spoof of the whole thing.
posted by FeldBum (57 comments total)

 
As seen here.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:16 PM on January 30, 2006


The inclusion of the images is new, as reported by SERoundTable and GoogleBlogoscoped today, as is the spoof and Gary's comparison of Google's changing policy text.
posted by FeldBum at 5:20 PM on January 30, 2006


Not to be a buzzkill, but it's entirely possible that most people in china (and certainly most Chinese national websites) do not associate tienanmin square with the protest. Especially since the government did their best to keep them from ever hearing about it.

Tienanmin Square is a famous landmark, so for the average chinese person, googling for it won't make them expect pics of the massacre.
posted by delmoi at 5:21 PM on January 30, 2006


Googling.cn for "tank sqaure" brings up the image, by the way.
posted by delmoi at 5:22 PM on January 30, 2006


btw, what is the actual chinese for tienanmen?
posted by delmoi at 5:23 PM on January 30, 2006


tank square massicre also works.
posted by delmoi at 5:24 PM on January 30, 2006


as does square massicre.

Okay, it does seem like they are obviously censoring results based on keywords, since removing 'tienanmen' from any searches brings up the results.
posted by delmoi at 5:25 PM on January 30, 2006


even man tanks brings up the pic.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 PM on January 30, 2006


GIS.cn for "china tank"


The image does show up but later on.
posted by delmoi at 5:27 PM on January 30, 2006


I don't think that Google should be getting such a bad rap for this. It seems fairly easy to get information that china does not want you to get. You just need to know how to look for it.
posted by Mr_Zero at 5:28 PM on January 30, 2006


The Google index doesn't change based on IP, unless you ask only for country-specific results, aside from small ranking changes. My guess is the Chinese government hasn't yet same anything to Google about that search yet. Try again in a few weeks...

Notice on "tank search" that the images (which come from non-chinese sites) and number are far more similar (3,160 vs 4,040) than "tiananmen sqaure" (68 vs. 14,100)
posted by FeldBum at 5:30 PM on January 30, 2006


Google shouldn't get a bad rap for doing it. They should get a bad rap for lying about it: "Google does not censor results for any search term"
posted by FeldBum at 5:31 PM on January 30, 2006


"坦克 平房" (literaly 'tan ke (tank) ping fan (square)) dosn't get me anything, though.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 PM on January 30, 2006


massicre. heh.
posted by quonsar at 5:33 PM on January 30, 2006



Google shouldn't get a bad rap for doing it. They should get a bad rap for lying about it: "Google does not censor results for any search term"


Where do they say that? They have said many times they sensor results in China, Germany, and the U.S.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 PM on January 30, 2006


Search for "jugs" NSFW
posted by Mr_Zero at 5:34 PM on January 30, 2006


OMFG! THEY SENSOR THE MASSICRE!
posted by quonsar at 5:34 PM on January 30, 2006


Check out this lovely image got by searching for "massacre square" (and yes, I'm spelling it correctly now).
posted by delmoi at 5:35 PM on January 30, 2006


Relevant AskMefi post.
posted by euphorb at 5:37 PM on January 30, 2006


OMFG! THEY SENSOR THE MASSICRE! except... they don't.
posted by delmoi at 5:38 PM on January 30, 2006


OMFG! THEY SENSOR THE MASSICRE! except... they don't.

they manually detect it then?
posted by quonsar at 5:43 PM on January 30, 2006


FeldBum writes "The inclusion of the images is new"

No it isn't.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:51 PM on January 30, 2006


How is the world any better off without google doing this in China? China isn't going to stop their controlling tendencies because Google didn't play ball there. Homegrown search engines will just flourish instead and they will play by the China-rules.

I get that this hullabaloo is mostly the result of Google changing their policy. Having said that, it is entirely ridiculous to expect Google to either a) put itself on the line by defying China's laws or b) just not do business in China because of their laws. If they know they provide the best service in a market why shouldn't they compete on the playing field that is presented to them? Google has a point when they say that China is best served by reliable access to the best search engine in the world. If this is what it takes to provide that and it benefits Google, good for Google.
posted by aburd at 5:58 PM on January 30, 2006


Intrestingly, searching for "天安门广场" google.com does not bring up any pictures of the tanks, but searching for "天安门广场 坦克" Does. searching for the same string of 中国字 on google.cn brings up only two pics, neither of which have anthing to do with the massacre.

I think I've posted way to much in this thread right now :P
posted by delmoi at 6:07 PM on January 30, 2006


A far cry from Google's claim that they do not censor results. Nice to know that they stand up to the government here but not abroad.

They announced they'd be censoring a week ago. And, as a result, they changed the "we do not censor" bit on their site. They haven't hidden the fact that they're doing this, and the CEO came out and made his case. This has been in the news for a week, and has been on MeFi and AskMeFi.

This is the problem with bloggers. You (as the fire-starting submitter) post this tirade as a FPP, your ONLY sources these bloggers that think they're really "sticking it to the man" by pointing out that Chinese Google queries seem to be censored, having of course no proof that any actual censorship is going on. Don't you think the Chinese results might be a little different than the American ones anyway, as pointed out in the posts above?

Fucking pay attention to the news, and the world around you. This is why I am terribly frightened that blogs are becoming increasingly mainstream news sources.
posted by symphonik at 6:11 PM on January 30, 2006


At least you can still search for whores
posted by 2sheets at 6:11 PM on January 30, 2006


Ah, and ... s/CEO/co-founder/g
posted by symphonik at 6:11 PM on January 30, 2006


I am ignorant, but I was also very young when this happened. What ever happened to that guy? Did he get run over, or arrested or what? If he's still alive, any word on him?
posted by shmegegge at 6:12 PM on January 30, 2006


Seems like a case of "we don't censor search results... until we decide to do so".

symphonik writes "This is the problem with bloggers. You (as the fire-starting submitter) post this tirade as a FPP, your ONLY sources these bloggers that think they're really 'sticking it to the man' by pointing out that Chinese Google queries seem to be censored, having of course no proof that any actual censorship is going on."

Except of course that as you mentioned "They announced they'd be censoring a week ago." Which makes me wonder what the point of your own little tirade is.
posted by clevershark at 6:16 PM on January 30, 2006


It might be worth noting that Google did not refuse to hand over or make available its data base to tyhe govt not out of concerns for our privacy but rather to protect their own trade secrets.

Though one might object to Google playing ball with a dicatorial regime, I note that Windows, AOL, Yahoo and on and on allow the American govt to get hold of data that ought to be private. And those are American companies in America with American customers.
posted by Postroad at 6:16 PM on January 30, 2006


nevermind. wikipedia just told me that no one knows for certain, but that he was pulled away from the tanks after half an hour.

I swear, it only occurs to me after I click post.
posted by shmegegge at 6:17 PM on January 30, 2006


At least you can still search for whores.

Searching for "婊子" dosn't get you anything intresting, though.

Just to throw this out there: The U.S. government, measured by any standard other then speech, is far more repressive then the Chinese one. The US has a quarter of the population of china, and like 4 times the number of people in Jails.
posted by delmoi at 6:29 PM on January 30, 2006


speech and guns.
posted by shmegegge at 6:30 PM on January 30, 2006


Google Censors in China, MS opens up source?
posted by shownomercy at 6:34 PM on January 30, 2006


delmoi writes "The U.S. government, measured by any standard other then speech, is far more repressive then the Chinese one."

Uh... reproductive rights? The one-child policy?

C'mon, man, you're not even trying.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:35 PM on January 30, 2006


Hmmm...no Tank Girl either.

posted by Smedleyman at 6:36 PM on January 30, 2006


I recently read (forget where, sorry) that google is aware that there will be cencorship in mainland China, but they consider it a tradeoff for the opportunity to provide service.
Also, as presented above, clever persons Chinois will easily work around the blunt clumsy blocking tools of the hidebound party elites.

Also, Jessica Simpson and Brad Pitt need more exposure.
posted by longsleeves at 6:37 PM on January 30, 2006


I use yahoo.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:43 PM on January 30, 2006


Even Google censorship reports are censored -- live on CNN, I kid you not. I wrote this a couple days ago:


Following the news that Google would start obliging the authorities in order to be able to deploy their server farms in mainland China so that they can feed their new Chinese portal, CNN International is running a segment on `What will trigger censorship' that I happened to catch last night.

Nor not.

Flipping through channels, vaguely brain dead following my over consumption of Schezuan Peppercorn during an early Spring Festival celebratory lunch at Grand Ma's Kitchen, I happened to get in the middle of that presentation. I caught it just when anchor Myke Chinoy (CNN's senior Asia correspondent) still looking at the camera, with a computer whose full screen web browser displayed Google's Chinese home page as a backdrop, goes: "This is how it works" (meaning, here's what happen when the Great Firewall of China kicks in and decides to censor your access to the net) and then... nothing. The screen went pitch black for 30 seconds or so, only to resume when the segment made way for the commercials.

posted by NewBornHippy at 6:46 PM on January 30, 2006


Last night, curious about this, I asked a friend who lives in China.

She says that she can get to google.us or google.ca just fine (and it will display in chinese if she asks) , where she gets "regular" search results, but that google.cn is actually more useful because its actually only indexes the part of the internet that loads behind China's great firewall.

So, is it immoral for Google to index, for chinese residents, the internet as it is avialable to these chinese residents? My answer is no.
posted by aubilenon at 6:52 PM on January 30, 2006


In Austria the ebay results for swastika are zero.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:01 PM on January 30, 2006


Check out this lovely image

What is that? A scooter?

wikipedia just told me that no one knows for certain

For the reference of others, he's called "Tank Man" or "The Unknown Rebel".
posted by dhartung at 7:05 PM on January 30, 2006


StickyCarpet: is it just my silly opinion or is the banning and censorship of all nazi paraphernalia more a form of denial than a way of opposing nazi ideals? If I were to wear a shirt with a swastika on it that read "Never forget what happened" in Germany, would I get arrested?
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:40 PM on January 30, 2006


Wow, what an interesting testament to governmental control over Chinese citizens.
posted by jne1813 at 8:13 PM on January 30, 2006


China 5000
Corporations 0
posted by narebuc at 8:24 PM on January 30, 2006


The apathy in this thread is just pathetic. "Google's not so bad, all the other corporations are doing it, baaa, baaa, baaa."

All of you Google apologists are a bunch fucking retarded sheep.

The fact is, in the 21st century, it's the corporations that wield the real power in the world, and if we don't use our collective voices to punish them - this kind of ammoral action will continue.

I may be a whacky idealist, but I've un-installed my google toolbar, and will no longer use Google as my preferred search provider.

And here's a pre-emptive fuck you to all of you snide hipsters that tell me Yahoo is just as bad. Who am I using then? Well, I'm working on it. I'll let you know. I just have to find a good search engine that is not kow-towing to government censorship for profit motives. Genuine suggestions are welcome.
posted by Dag Maggot at 8:55 PM on January 30, 2006


Washington Post op-ed piece today defended Google and accused Yahoo of helping the government arrest a pro democracy advocate.

"...Yahoo has obliged the Chinese government by tracing pro-democracy e-mails to one of its users. The e-mailer has been jailed, and Yahoo has effectively become a Chinese police auxiliary."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/29/AR2006012900708.html
posted by donkelly at 9:10 PM on January 30, 2006


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/29/AR2006012900708.html

One of these days I will learn to put in links correctly
posted by donkelly at 9:11 PM on January 30, 2006



From the same article:

"Google has negotiated the right to disclose, at the bottom of its Chinese search results, whether information has been withheld -- a disclosure that may prompt users to repeat their search using google.com instead of google.cn. Of course, the second search might be frustrated by Cisco's routers. But disclosing censorship is half the battle. If people know they are being brainwashed, then they are not being brainwashed."
posted by donkelly at 9:14 PM on January 30, 2006


Just to throw this out there: The U.S. government, measured by any standard other then speech, is far more repressive then the Chinese one. The US has a quarter of the population of China, and like 4 times the number of people in Jails.

Uh, no. It's true that the US incarceration rate is much higher than China's. But it's not 16 times higher.

Here's a comparison for you: In 2004, there were at least 3800 people executed worldwide. China executed at least 3400 of them. (The US executed 59.)
posted by russilwvong at 9:20 PM on January 30, 2006


I think we should have a post a week about this vital topic until either the Chinese government or Google (they're clearly equally evil) dies of shame!
posted by languagehat at 7:25 AM on January 31, 2006


Uh, no. It's true that the US incarceration rate is much higher than China's. But it's not 16 times higher.

Er, you're right, it's only six times higher. We still have more total people behind bars (1.5 million vs. 2.0 million), which is still pathetic.
posted by delmoi at 7:37 AM on January 31, 2006


"坦克 平房" (literaly 'tan ke (tank) ping fan (square)) dosn't get me anything, though.

Delmoi, the "平房" (ping fan) in your search means 'square' in the 'square feet or square metres' sense of the word and is not the same square as Tiananmen Square. That might explain why you got no hits.
posted by reformedjerk at 8:24 AM on January 31, 2006


Just so everyone doesn't continue to single out Google as being the epitome of corporate evil for "supporting Chinese censorship", try the same searches over at Yahoo China.
posted by JJ86 at 12:39 PM on January 31, 2006


Don't confuse people, JJ86. Google is the designated Villain of the Week. Let them have their outrage. February will bring a different piece of Shock!Horror!, and everyone will forget all about this.
posted by languagehat at 12:59 PM on January 31, 2006


If Google is to operate in China it's bound by Chinese laws. Just as Amazon can't sell Mein Kampf in several EU countries, I don't agree with Hitler's writings but I'm disappointed Germany doesn't have enough faith in it's citizen to know right from wrong. Where is your outrage? ACLU protects the KKK's right to get parade permits because they protect ALL free speech even speech they find objectionable.

I simply don't get this Google's job to fight the power bullshit, they are a company not CIA dummy corporation setup to undermine the existing power structures. It's unfortunate policy of China to suppress information but it's standing law.

And second lets use proper definitions here, Google suppress, Chinese government censors. If you're yelling obscenities on someone's front law and they kick you off it's not censorship, it a guy telling those you stupid kids to get off his lawn and shut up. Only the government censors. Better Google be offered so information seeking citizens can get away with 'tank guy' searches than no Google at all.

If Google suppresses pictures of naked children on the images search because it needs to comply with regional law are you naysayers going to get gruff with phony First Amendment arguments. Ah but you say how can you compare molested children with brutally molested protestors, obscenity has always been a community standard. Who sets the standard? Government officials.

So while I don't agree with Chinese standard of 'state secrets' or 'treason', however, they are the government. If you don't like it, engineer a coup and you can look at all the tank guy and tank girl photos you want. Frankly, I think Chinese have made a lot of progress in civil rights since Chairman Mao, and the party's grip is slipping and they know it. In order to have a thriving democracy you need a healthy middle class that gets fed up with the aristocracy and the more economic opportunities provided the quicker that will happen, hence allowing capitists into the Party membership. It's already begun. Eventually the middle class will engineer a political coup inside the party by holding the economy as hostage, and the Party will back down and allow more rights for the emerging class. The civil rights movement didn't start until the blacks moved from the farms to the factories and earned a decent wage and wanted to start buying houses and cars. Read your god damn history books and learn to look for signals.

So Google's access in China in a increasing information dependent economy is doing more to spread of democracy than those Free Tibet bumper stickers

I am curious though what the results would be from google.com from a Chinese proxy.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 6:49 PM on January 31, 2006


I did a google.com translation of the google.cn image search and note the message at the bottom of the page:

According to the local law laws and regulations and the policy, partially searches the result does not demonstrate.

I was hoping it would be at the top of the page, but at least it's THERE.
posted by antifuse at 1:07 AM on February 3, 2006


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