Google Now Highlights Censored Search Terms for Users in China

Posted in: Censorship at 02/06/2012 16:32

[IDG] Google on Thursday began helping users in China navigate the country's strict censorship systems by highlighting search terms that will likely result in page errors, as part of an update to the company's search engine. But the new feature could be arriving too late to help the search giant improve its presence in the country, according to one analyst.

The Internet giant said in a blog post, that while the company has found no problems with its search engine, users in mainland China have complained that the service is "inconsistent and unreliable." Part of the problem results from queries of certain search terms, which can result in error messages and prevent users from accessing Google search again for a minute or more, according to the company.

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In a carefully worded blog post on Google's Official Blog this week, the company said it will start alerting users in mainland China when they have typed in search terms that trigger an "interruption" of service to Google.

The words "censored" and "censorship" never appear in the post, and the company never says that it may be Chinese officials interrupting the service.,0,804762.story

Skepticism Greets Google's Attempt to Deal With Censored Terms in China
As my colleague Michael Wines reports, Google has quietly unveiled a feature on its search pages in China that warns users when they type in terms that could run afoul of the country's robust censorship network.

Google posted a video on one of its corporate blogs documenting Internet interruptions that its employees had observed in China and that were "closely correlated with searches for a particular subset of queries." Among the problematic terms listed in the video were the Yangtze River, a weekly newspaper in Guangzhou and McDonald's.

Google to Alert Users to Chinese Censorship
Google has quietly upped the ante in a long-running dispute with the Chinese authorities over censorship, adding a software twist to its search page that warns users when they type a search term whose results are likely to be blocked in China.

The change, announced without publicity on Thursday on one of Google's corporate blogs, is described as an improvement in the search experience for users in mainland China, who can be disconnected from Google without explanation when they try to open a Web page that was found using a censored search term.

Google Tips Off Users in China
Google Inc. 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.

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