Censored Search

Western companies assist Chinese repression

11th February

Update: Searching for Transparency...

Microsoft degraded in China

Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft all maintain versions of their search engines for the Chinese market that censor political content. One of the key issues that emerged concerned transparency. In 2006, all three search engines, following Google's lead, introduced a message that informed user when the results of their searches were censored. The presence of a mechanism of notification is a critical component of transparency. This notification informs users that their search results have been censored and indicates, to a certain degree, the reason (often unspecified “local law”) why based on what the user searched for. The message appeared only when the user's results were censored and thus it was possible to connect the censorship to specific keywords or websites.

By 2008 the level of transparency has decreased. While Google's censorship notification has remained essentially the same as it was in 2006, Yahoo! and Microsoft have altered the way in which users are notified of censorship. Yahoo! has put its censorship message at the bottom of every page regardless of whether results are censored or not, in effect de-linking the censorship notification from the results. Microsoft has removed the text completely and buried the censorship notification with a separate “help” page. These developments represent a significant degrading of transparency and accountability.

January 25, 2008
Search Engine Placement Connection
Google High
Notification is placed under results
Notification only appears when results are censored
Yahoo Medium
Notification is placed at the bottom of every page
Microsoft Low
A link to a separate “help” page which contains a link to section that contains the notification

...Read full article from Nart Villeneuve



Update: For Reasons We Know Not What...

Google ends a feature informing Chinese search users that they were being censored

Link Here 5th January 2013

Google has conceded defeat in its latest effort to combat online censorship in China, after a year of behind-the-scenes brinkmanship over sensitive search terms banned by authorities.

The search company has quietly dropped a warning message shown to Chinese users when they search for politically sensitive phrases, after Beijing found new ways to cut them off from the web.

Google decided to drop the feature in December. A source in China said Google decided it was counterproductive to continue the technical dispute.

A Google spokesman confirmed it removed the notification features in December, but declined to comment further due to the sensitivity of the situation in China.


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