The official Google Blog has responded to the much criticized censoring of information they will be offering Chinese users as they enter that new market:
Launching a Google domain that restricts information in any way isn’t a step we took lightly. For several years, we’ve debated whether entering the Chinese market at this point in history could be consistent with our mission and values. Our executives have spent a lot of time in recent months talking with many people, ranging from those who applaud the Chinese government for its embrace of a market economy and its lifting of 400 million people out of poverty to those who disagree with many of the Chinese government’s policies, but who wish the best for China and its people. We ultimately reached our decision by asking ourselves which course would most effectively further Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally useful and accessible. Or, put simply: how can we provide the greatest access to information to the greatest number of people?
Google Blogoscoped has had some of the best coverage of the issue so far, so I’d suggest hitting their main page and scrolling a bit or once this becomes a dated item.
What was I thinking? The blogosphere is too full of hypocritical little shits for this to work, or perhaps Google doesn’t deserve full blame (see latest update).
Oddly though, nobody has suggested the obvious: boycott Google.
Why? because a lot of bloggers and websites with controversial opinions, myself included, make quite a bit of money from Google’s Adsense program. And we’re very likely going to get kicked to the curb once Google moves into China, so why not speak up with our grievances. Well, I have a solution for that: a one day boycott protest similar to thea few years ago. For one day, everyone replace their Adsense ads with red protest banners that direct to a site with information about why we disagree with Google censorship in China. Hit Google where it matters, their bottom line. If you’re not making money off ads, neither is Google.
Red Tuesday sounds like a good enough name.
Is anyone up to the challenge or are we all afraid of the Goliath?
Update: Obviously you can’t rush into a boycott, the date for Red Tuesday will be February 14th. Oddly enough this coincides with Valentine’s day so the red will be sure to catch a lot of eyeballs. More details later, I’ll coordinate with anyone who’s interested but for now just link to this post if you’re on board.
Another Update: There’s an open letter to Google that’s growing quite rapidly with comments.
Another Update: On second thought, perhaps Google doesn’t deserve to get the brunt of our anger. Maybe the best course of action is to boycott Chinese goods, not Google for doing what they think is in their best business sense (I could argue that it’s not, since there’s a huge loss of trust in the accuracy of their results due to this, which harms their image and user base abroad as well).
I have the distinct feeling that most people who are unhappy with China’s censorship policies are essentially full of shit if you confront them and tell them to put their money where their mouth is. Google seems to be candidate #1 who’s full of shit as well considering they’re gung-ho to stand up to one government telling them how to operate their business, but meekly shying away from another.
Yet Another Update: A more practical idea might be to document what the Chinese authorities are asking Google to block and creating a button linking campaign to that central resource (on Wikipedia, perhaps it’s own protected wiki place?). I’m simply throwing ideas out here on how to either help the Chinese citizens circumvent the censorship, or that they would know something is amiss because huges swaths of the Internet are blocked. Either way, it’s a jab in China’s eye, not Google’s