After speculation earlier in the week, Google has admitted to censorship on it's recently launched Chinese version of Google News. Investigations by Dynamic Internet Technology found that Google has dropped at least 8 sites from the list that it crawls, effectively censoring content by picking "favourable sites" to source from. D.I.T found that running a query in China could give very different results to that of one run in the USA.
Google have acknowledged the issue with the service, yet argue the complaints about censorship are invalid. Users in China following banned links go to a blank page, something that Google has tried to avoid.
Google spokeswoman Debbie Frost said "Google has decided that in order to create the best possible search experience for our mainland China users we will not include sites whose content is not accessible." She described the number of sites blocked as a "tiny fraction" of the list they include. Interestingly, Google say that the Chinese service draws on ~1000 sites; in Germany they use ~700 and users in Italy only see ~250.
This action of censorship does rather go against the "Google ethic", and thus one might easily conclude that Google didn't have much choice in the matter. It's in Google's best interests to maintain solid links with the Chinese government at a time of rapid technological expansion in the country. Indeed, the relationship turned sour two years ago when the Chinese government blocked access to Google, and was only brought back after massive public pressure.
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