By now you’ve probably heard about Google’s capitulation to the Chinese. The Chinese government asked Google to limit (aka censor) certain search engine requests and Google said, “OK.”
If you’re in China, trying to find information that the government feels is inappropriate, too bad. Google won’t help.
I suppose it’s their prerogative as a commercial outfit. It’s the decision many company’s would make under similar circumstances. I’ve heard of media companies that provide ‘adult’ content here in the states, but tone it down in their Asian distributions.
In fact, Google has recently taken a stronger stand here in the United States, objecting to our government’s request for information on personal search requests. That’s laudable. It doesn’t take Google off the hook.
Companies often adapt their business practices to please the host country. And, there’s no getting around it, China is a huge host country with loads of profit potential.
Here’s why Google’s decision is so vexing to me. It has to do with their own corporate philosophy… their own declaration that they’re different. It’s number six of the “Ten things Google Has Found to be True.”
Those are their words. I cut and pasted that right from Google’s corporate site.
Their site also used to ask:
Google does not censor results for any search term. The order and content of our results are completely automated; we do not manipulate our search results by hand. We believe strongly in allowing the democracy of the web to determine the inclusion and ranking of sites in our search results.
It doesn’t say that anymore. The page that held that info has been removed. I was able to retrieve a copy of what used to be there from Google’s own cache! I’m not sure how long that will be around before being revised, or deleted, which is why it’s a ‘picture’ of the page, rather than a link to what’s there at this moment.
This decision on Google’s part is evil. I can’t think of any other way to parse it. Google is subjugating their principles… my principles… in the pursuit of money. But it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Google hadn’t have gone out of their way to claim they would never be ‘that’ kind of company.
There are many things, good and bad, this country can export. Freedom of information – the freedom to explore all ideas, is among our most precious and powerful. It’s so much better than exporting pop culture and fast food.
I have often heard an expression (which I will paraphrase here) that someone can be “F. U. Rich.” That means they’ve got enough money to do what they wish and not worry about the consequences. Isn’t Google in that position now? Don’t the Chinese need Google more than Google need the Chinese?
Where are Google’s principles?
Blogger’s note: Google provides the one source of income for this blog through its AdSense program. In essence, they pay my server costs. Google is also the largest source of traffic to this site.
Addendum – This entry was originally called “I’m Not Google… But If I Was.”