Google Tips Off Users in China
Google Inc. GOOG -1.70% has begun warning users in China of certain search words that may trigger the country’s Internet censors, in its boldest challenge in two years to Beijing’s efforts to restrict online content.
The Internet company unveiled on its Hong Kong-based search site this week a new mechanism that identifies political and other sensitive terms that may cause service interruptions by Chinese authorities.
For example, when users in China search for keywords like “carrot” in Chinese—which contains the character for Chinese President Hu Jintao’s surname—a yellow dropdown message says: “We’ve observed that searching for ‘hu’ in mainland China may temporarily break your connection to Google. This interruption is outside Google’s control.”
Google acknowledged on its blog Thursday that users in China are having trouble accessing its services, saying failed searches can cause temporary outages on the site. The post is careful not to mention censorship or explicitly say Chinese authorities are the cause.
“Users are regularly getting error messages like ‘This webpage is not available’ or ‘The connection was reset,'” the post said.
Associated PressA Chinese flag flutters at Google’s China headquarters in Beijing.
Google says it hopes the alerts “will help improve the search experience in mainland China,” where Google’s search and other services have been unstable since it entered a public spat with Chinese authorities over censorship more than two years ago. A Google spokesman declined to comment further.
Chinese officials don’t discuss their Internet restrictions, and its restricted search terms are treated as state secrets. In its post, Google said the trigger terms were identified based on reviews of the outcomes of the 350,000 most popular search queries in China, not an official list. Read More