Google in China

January 26, 2006

Topics: Blogging.

So, Google has moved into China . . . or at least, part of it has. In order to tap this admittedly enormous and rapidly growing market, Google has made a very unusual concession. While simultaneously fighting against a subpoena by the US government, requiring them to provide certain data from their search database, they have agreed to censor their database within China at the request of the Chinese government. Among the topics censored are pornography, sexual health, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, beer, and jokes.

A tough position, admittedly – since Yahoo and MSN have already moved in, Google was left at a decided disadvantage: to either ignore the potential of the Chinese market, or violate their principles by allowing censorship. Well, Google is a business, deep down, and their business principles are likely to win. The Chinese market is currently estimated at 110 million – and there can be no question that in a country of 1.3 billion, this market will grow.

It’s also interesting to note that the censorship is not entirely logical – but, that is the way of an algorithmic tool. It will take some fine tuning to convince the search algorithm that Essex County is NOT a pornographic website, despite the presence of the word "sex" in the title!

This is an intriguing developmen – comments, anyone?

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