Over the last couple of weeks, the internet has been full of stories on how Google China is bucking the government's demands to censor internet searches. The Beinjin dictatorship is expected to respond by banning Google from the country.
Responses to this initiative have come in two forms. The more cynical note that a homemade browser has the majority of the market in China so Google isn't losing that much by leaving the market. The more optimistic are excitedt that Google is standing up to repressive censorship, especially at a time when the so-called leader of the free world refuses to meet with dissidents representing freedom from oppression in a bid to placate the dictators.
But is it that simple? A column in The National Post on the weekend caught my attention and provided me with information that it isn't. In fact, Google censors quite a bit although not with the ham-handed techniques of China's government.
This week, Google announced an end to its long-standing collaboration with the Chinese Communists — it will no longer censor users inside China.
That’s good of it. Maybe Google will now also stop using its search engine to censor the rest of us, in the Western countries.
Search for “Googlegate” on Google and you’ll get a paltry result (my result yesterday was 29,300). Search for “Googlegate” on Bing, Microsoft’s search engine competitor, and the result numbers an eye-popping 72.4 million. If you’re a regular Google user, as opposed to a Bing user, you might not even know that “Googlegate” has been a hot topic for years in the blogosphere — that’s the power that comes of being able to control information.
Despite Google’s motto of “Do No Evil,” it has long been controversial and suspected of evil-doing — and not just in its cooperation with China, or in protecting itself by hiding criticism of itself from unsuspecting Google users. In recent months, most of the evil-doing has focused on the Climategate scandal, the startling emails from the Climate Research Unit in the UK that show climate change scientists to be cooking the books.
For many weeks now, readers have been sending me emails describing how Google has been doing its best to hide information relating to Climategate, which has been the single biggest story on the Internet since the Climategate emails came to light on November 19. By Nov. 26, the term had gone viral and Google returned more results for “climategate” (10.4 million) than for “global warming” (10.1 million). As the Climate Scandal exploded, and increasing numbers of blog sites covered it, the number of web pages with Climategate continued to climb. On Dec. 7, Google’s search engine found 31.6 million hits for people who searched for “Climategate.”
Sometime around then, in early December, Google began to minimize the Climategate scandal by hiding Climategate pages from its users. By Dec. 17, the number of climategate pages that a Google search found dropped by almost 10 million, to 22.2 million. One day later Google dropped its find by another 8 million pages, to 14.1 million. By Dec. 23, Google could find only 7.5 million hits and on Dec. 24 just 6 million. And yesterday, when I checked, Google reported a mere 1.8 million climategate pages.
This morning it's down to 1.74 million. But the article brings another eye-popping fact to mind, one which I also confirmed myself:
But search for Googlegate and you’ll also see that more than money is at stake. The accusations against Google of censorship are wide-spread, involving schemes to elect Barack Obama, attacks on Christianity (key in “Christianity is” and Google will suggest unflattering completions to the phrase), and political correctness (key in “Islam is” and nothing negative is suggested).
My preference for Google relates back to the days when I used dial-up to access the internet. The simple search page loaded almost instantly while Yahoo and Altavista took several minutes. However, now with ubiquitous high speed access combined with these revelations, I think I'm switching to Bing. I don't mind principled stands but I can't stand when they're combined with such rank hypocrisy.