Google wants to make sure that people who conduct keyword searches in China know the results don’t stink — censorship does. In 2010, Google pulled out of China and moved to Hong Kong after years of censorship battles with the Chinese government. It’s been said that Google left China for another reason – cyber-spying by the Chinese government. Regardless of the real reason Google left China, the company got a lot of positive publicity from the decision as advocates of content and communication freedom.
Today, Internet users in China can access the Google search engine www.google.hk. Unfortunately for several years, users in mainland China have complained that Google is unreliable. After close investigation and analysis, Google found that search results for some keywords are still censored, which creates a negative user experience and reflects poorly on the Google brand.
Google explains, “We’ve taken a long, hard look at our systems and have not found any problems. However, after digging into user reports, we’ve noticed that these interruptions are closely correlated with searches for a particular subset of queries.” Google explains that ongoing research showed that search results were being censored in China, although the post never uses the word censored.
Last week, Google responded with a new defensive strategy. Censored search results will be accompanied by a message that says, “We’ve observed that search for [X] in mainland China may temporarily break your connection to Google. This interruption is outside of Google’s control.” When users see this message, they can either revise their keywords to remove problematic words (which are highlighted in yellow in the search box) or conduct a new search.
Google created a short video to show how search results and the Google user experience can be affected for users in China, which you can watch below.
Clearly, this isn’t a perfect solution, but at least it enables users to better understand and refine their search results so they have a better chance of finding the information they want and need.