Google says it’s taking “a new approach to China” and will stop censoring search results there, even if it means they have to shut down Google.cn and their China offices. The announcement is a huge deal, and it set off some fantastic insta-commentary from tech writers on Twitter. My favorite, shown above, is courtesy of Joel Johnson. More inside.
Most people’s reactions were emotional, proud, celebratory:
Others dug deeper or cracked jokes.
From a friend who shall remain nameless because her/his tweets are protected:
From an obvious Microsoft-lover:
Chinese tech writer Jacqui Cheng had the most insightful bits of the bunch. So you don’t have to read her tweets backward, she said:
# The Google/China thing is so much bigger than Google just deciding to stop censoring. That’s small beans compared to the big picture.
# Basically, Google thinks the Chinese gov could be behind these attacks, attempting to use Google as a pawn to get info on detractors…
# …and is saying so without actually saying so.
# The wording is very careful and calculated in that sense. Not to mention that others have suspected the same for a long time.
Finally, Cheng’s prediction on how this will play out:
# China will tell Google to suck it and Google will pull out, and America will forget all about it in a week.
If you want more than 140 characters, here’s The New York Times’ first take on the news.
I think these are all way off the mark. It’s purely a business decision.
Google have been failing in China for some time and they want to get out. They’re spinning a failed business as a positive human rights / anti-censorship move.
But if they really cared about censorship, they wouldn’t have been in China in the first place. At least not on Chinese government terms.
I’m not as skeptical @Dom. I have always held google in high esteem ever since they refused to release search data to the FBI after 9/11. They are protecting many of our consumer and privacy rights within the US and in the best sense possible promoting healthy dissemination of information globally. That’s not to say their reasons aren’t selfish. They are. But in this case, they’re mutually beneficial to the rest of us. What’s good for google is good for free-thinking society. You could even say google thrives because of a free-thinking society and, as such, may not have any business to do in China. Though I share your cyncism re: the business of PR, I see that as a necessary evil as well. You gotta put spin out there or someone else will do it for you.