Google Responds on China; Boycott Google

Google China censorshipThe 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?

A lot of bloggers aren’t buying the explanation, calling it a cop-out and doublespeak on Google’s part.

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 hit the search archive 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 the Grey Tuesday protest a 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

41 Comments
  1. This is a great idea. The Google China thing has gotten a lot of media exposure, and I’m sure Red Tuesday would get a lot of so-called “mainstream media” exposure. It’s a great way to generate publicity for those participating, especially those who organize the boycott…like Hammer of Truth. (I hope you’re organizing it.)

  2. Hmmm. It’s a complicated issue. A Red Tuesday site that educates people telling them of all angles to the story might be a good thing. I don’t know. What would really interest me is what a Chinese who’s in prison for speaking up in China is thinking about Google’s move.

  3. Boycotting Google for google.cn is silly. Engagement is good. Boycotting goods produced in the PRC jurisdiction to protest google.cn is stupid. Will not be noticed by anyone who matters, will give (U.S.) economic nationalists an excuse. A more appropriate response is to get yourself kicked out of the Google.cn index by spreading links that the Communist Party of China doesn’t want spread.

  4. It would be far more effective to create a database of Google employees. Name names. Shame might not work on these hideous people, but the database could be valuable in other ways…

  5. You people are morons…Google, by making money in China, is taking money from China and bringing it here. That’s a good thing. Boycotting Google just hurts the American economy. Boycott China if you don’t like China.

  6. I’d like to ask everyone to help come up with ideas that will fight Chinese censorship and completely destroy their ability to control the content of the Internet. The crux of the matter here is really that while Google is indeed tucking tail in order to get into this market, we need to come up with novel ideas on how to fix the root of the problem, not the mere symptoms.

  7. TO: All
    RE: Google

    Here’s what I’m doing:

    [1] Moved my web-browser from Safari, which has Google hard-wired into it, to FireFox.
    [2] Informed Apple that I will not touch Safari until they allow me to choose my web-browser.
    [3] Made an appointment for tomorrow with my money market manager to sign documents that will divest my accounts of any activity that has anything to do with either Google OR Microsoft.

    It’s not that hard.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.]

  8. Correction:

    Item #2. I require Apple to allow me to choose my SEARCH ENGINE software. Not the browser….. My error.

  9. Boycotts in this day and age are ephemeral. Absent sustained, mass disapproval, Google like any other $130-billion cap Company will trundle forward unopposed.

    How’s about litigatin’ or legislatin’, my little Chicadee? Why not apply False Advertising statutes on a class-action basis to the Google-meisters? After all, as Users may we not object to fraudulent misrepresentation when Google calls itself a “search engine”– and then purposely sabotages its clients’ efforts? Maybe “Theft of Service” would get their attention: Is censorship not precisely that? Promise to fully and faithfully perform a service, and then cheerfully render its results inaccurate, misleading, even dangerous…

    Call the Texas State Tort Bar immediately! Think what a $5-billion class-action settlement (small-change for Google) would represent in terms of happy, well-fed Members of the Bar. We might even cut the plaintiffs in on it!

  10. hmmm as a protest, pick a key word, then have every person in the country hit it with no intention of buying product “z” and then inform the advertisers what is up – My guess is that there are already folks who own Google stock going around and clicking on Google ads just to increase bottom line anyway. Some Keywords are very high, like “computer” etc.

    And no. I do not own any Google Stock

  11. John Blake: In this case, government legislation and litigation is the path of those who lack self-restraint and need someone to tell them what to do (I don’t need anyone to tell me not to use Google if I disagree with their business practices and they aren’t harming me).

    In case you’re new here, this is a libertarian blog. Or were you just trying to rib us?

  12. Google often changes it logo for special events.

    Can someone who is a graphic artist come up with a parody of the Google logo which we can then attach to email or put on web pages? Like an editorial cartoonist would do?

    E.g.,

    1) A parody which shows something like “Google” as a tank rolling over a Chinese citizen?

    2) Or the famous picture of the Chinese citizen and tank with the red “prohibited” circle and cross bar – with Google inscribed on the cross bar?

    3) Or a form of “Google” with “prohibited” circles and crossbars in place of the “o”s?

    (IANAL but someone should check with a copyright expert to make sure the parody would be legal and immune from lawsuit threats from Google.)

  13. Yes boycotts rarely work and only really make the participants feel good about himself. And right now I am very pleased with myself.

  14. And, yeah, doh! A parody like

    /images/articles/1667-google_china_censorship.gif

    is a good example!

  15. People, I know that it’s easier to get angry at Google, but seriously, all search engines censor their Chinese results, so you’re doing no better using another search engine. And Firefox has Google built-in.

  16. Hey Steve, there may be a way for chinese residents to access info, although I don’t want to mention it here because I do not want it to share the same fate as Web Accelerator.

    As far as boycotts go, there is one effective way for it to work (financially that is) although I would only endorse one if it was applied to ALL businesses compromising to evil in China (as that would help end this thing called “civil censorship” in China).

    If you want to, email me for details. :)

  17. Stephan van Dyck,

    As a disciple of Friedman and von Hayek, i.e free-market to the max, we agree that official constraints damage free enterprise, stifle innovation, drain productive resources from the overall economy… that is what Red China does, and with Google’s help will now do better.

    My post is, yes, tongue-in-cheek… but there remains a substantive issue of how to prevent a Google’s near-monopoly from impacting precisely those elements which make the Web so invaluable to freedom. Notice that “false advertising”, “theft of service” et.al. are not constraints on honest enterprises. No more than stock market “boiler rooms”, dens of rapacious con-artists that they are, should a company like Google be immune to fundamental scrutiny: Not strictly economic, but in earnest of preserving trust, what Ayn Rand called “Capitalism’s unknown ideal.”

    If we cannot trust Google’s honesty and efficiency in opposing censorship, the loss is more than economic.

  18. Use Google, just don’t let them get paid for it. Instead of clicking on ads, copy and paste the URL so no click revenue is generated.

  19. China’s media is less censored than the Jewish-controlled U.S. media (at least everyone there knows who owns the media).

  20. Anyone criticizing China Government is no different with animals because there are only one government interested for the future of her people and that is indeed China Government. The bad influence of internet including those porns as well as those vain politics are backsliding those nations claiming freedom in inhumane homosexual, lesbianism, adultery. Yea I indeed abhor the Chinese animal called Lee Ann which was recentely awarded an Oscar award for proclaiming homosexuality as his masterpiece, and I don’t know did he learn that from being fucked by his Lee father. According to the law of righteousness, that Lee dog should be killed lest human beings be animal like him.

  21. Boycott Chinese goods? A bit late for that – you can’t even hook up your computer or telephone without Chinese goods, since all the damn cables are made there. Mouse, keyboard, etc – same problem. They’re cheap. Where would you go to buy expensive cables even if you thought it worthwhile to do so? There aren’t any. It’s Chinese or you’re reduced to communicating with messages in bottles. Unless all our paper and bottles are made there by now.

  22. Too bad we can’t change meaning of the verb ‘Google’, as in, the Chinese gov. successfully googled all references to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Orthe Washington Post googled offensive comments from their blog…

  23. How are Chinese citizens better off without google?
    How is Chinese censorship easier when you can search the all of the internet?

    If anything, the presense of Google makes the govt’s job more difficult. The easiest way to ensure the freedom of the Chinese people is to help lift them out of poverty – buy Chinese goods so that wealth in China is increased. As wealth is increased so will be the demands for more freedom. When an entire country is subject to poverty their primary concern is food – not freedom.

    Help the Chinese get rise to middle class so that they can start demanding freedom. The last decade has shown how much progress can be made be engaging in trade, let’s see how far another decade will go.

    For evidence on how well boycotts work – look at Cuba, N Korea, Iraq and Vietnam. There people are worse off today than when the boycotts started. Such policies build resentment – not freedom.

  24. Shame on you all. Google has given everyone so much. You even have google adds on your page, and im pretty sure you have used Google blogs, and Google Maps and Google Groups in the past. And you have the balls to say “Boycot Google”?

    Dont boycot Google, give them credit for making a very good decision to give Google to the Chinese. Do you have any idea how supressed Chinese youth is? Google will give them a chance to find information in their language much easier.

    Uneducated sheep like you are the reason Lord Bush and his minions came to power in the first place.

    Shame on you all.

    http://zlaya.blogspot.com/

  25. Geez… talk about flip-flopping. I would stick with your inital thoughts that Google is to blame. By no means does Google HAVE to do business in China. In short, Google has told the world they support censorship. Plain and simple. Boycott Google.

  26. I am kind of mixed on this. Google is a for profit company. We can wish all we want that the world is perfect, but it isn’t. Boycott all you wish, but to demand that they conduct business as a charity is hypocritical at best(for libertarians anyway). They are doing business in a region that censors information. But isn’t that the area they should move into? Freedom is the right of all humanity- but a right recognized first as an idea. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is free thought. Shit, some Americans don’t get it and blood was spilled over free thought > 200 years ago. If the Chinese don’t understand freedom, how can they pursue it? Let’s act like Ice-T, and be their “pusher.” Of course, we’ll be rappin’ and Google can spin the records.

  27. No one is advocating they work for charity. If Google were to start censoring US sites at the request of the US govt, would you feel the same way?

  28. No, Mike. (you know me much better than that. But their entry into that market is profit driven.

  29. I’ve been informing my costumers in my Internet-caffè, in Pisa Italy that Google is now censoring results in It’s chinese web site. Google was the only big search engine for chinese people were to know things about Tibet, Taiwan, and more in general the opposition to their government: Now China lost it’s last chances to be free. I’m not prowd of beeng half-American in these days.
    Do you ever think about the fact that China will be more rich than the USA by 2031? Think about your future freedom and help China to be free from such government censorship. It’s all about OUR future.

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