Google is no longer a verb in China, or at least as of this week it can’t be. The world’s leading search engine has pulled out of the world’s largest country. The problem: Censorship.
In keeping with its American, free-speech roots, Google executives refused to cave when the communist Chinese government demanded the company work with censors to block certain information from reaching the general public. In January, Google ceased collaborating with the censors and now three months later the company has closed down its operations there and has begun redirecting traffic to the Hong Kong site, which does not have strict censorship regulations.
After a little digging, I discovered YouTube and Blogger are among the restricted destinations; the people of China are unable to access these sites at all. While both Blogger and YouTube contain a large amount of people who ramble on about nothing… I find it interesting that these two sites are completely blocked. This is public speech in the modern age. Vloggers and bloggers can rant and rave about whatever they desire to talk or write about. This is the modern-eras town square; a place where the average Joe or Jane can express his or her opinions.
So it’s not just the news China wants to keep out. The move to censor Google was about silencing the masses, not giving them the right to state their opinion or even really form one based on compiled/researched information.
As a journalist, who at times tends toward the liberal, and as an American the very notion of censorship scares me. Sure, I may not like a lot of what people have to say but I have the choice to read their blog or to skip it. The people in China don’t get that option.
What do you think about Google pulling out of China? Was it the right move?
(Pic from NYDailyNews)