BEIJING – Google has started telling users in China when web searches contain keywords that could be tracked by the country’s keen-eyed censors, one of the company’s top officials announced.
“Starting today we’ll notify users in mainland China when they enter a keyword that may cause connection issues,” Alan Eustace, a Senior Vice President for Google, wrote on the company’s Inside Search blog on Thursday. “By prompting people to revise their queries, we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user experience from mainland China.”
I love Google for stuff like this. They do something similar on YouTube. “This video has been removed due to a copyright claim by Time Warner Heavy Industry Co Ltd.” That way, they comply with the legal takedown request, but they make sure the company issuing it looks like a big spoilsport at the same time.
In China, the authorities support the rise of local services instead of more popular foreign ones. Not only does this have the obvious effect of not helping foreign businesses above their own, but it makes it very easy for the Chinese government to monitor and remove anything extremely quickly. They probably monitor Chinese search engines and social networks for specific keywords, and messages with those keywords are then forwarded on to some government department – it’s all done proper 1984 style. This is why China has their own version of everything – Google, Facebook, Twitter, you name it.