Hypocrisy Watch: Google Implores World to Condemn Chinese Censorship

Wait—weren't you just complying with it a few days ago?

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Just days after its partial exit from China, Google has become increasingly vocal. In an interview with the Guardian, Google co-founder Sergey Brin urged the Obama administration to do something about Google's censorship. He also scolded Microsoft for cooperating with China, calling its actions "disappointing." And today, Google officials testified to a federal commission in an attempt to influence U.S. trade relations with China. Is the search giant a bit too quick to jump on its high horse?

  • I'd Say So! writes John Murrell at Good Morning Silicon Valley: "As much as a newly reformed sinner deserves congratulations and support, jumping straight into the pulpit is a bit unseemly. If you’re going to preach about the righteous path, it would help if you’ve been on it for more than 24 hours. Google was right to tell China’s censors to do their own dirty work, but that was only after four years of being wrong, so it ought to be careful about playing the holier-than-thou card just yet."

Let’s have a much needed reality check. Flashback to January 2006... [Google] agreeing to censor its search engine. Why did it do that? Google wanted to win in China. To win, it wanted to be physically based in the country. To have local ad reps. To have infrastructure there. To recruit locally. None of this was possible without complying with the censorship demands. Google surrounded this business move with all types of statements that censorship was really something it was doing to help a large population find good, non-politically sensitive information that wasn’t subject to censorship...

Microsoft, with practically no search share in China, has also consequently censored far, far less information that Google has over the years. Complaining about Microsoft’s search censorship is like a giant polluting country screaming that some small country is causing the world’s problems... If China’s so bad, set a real example. Get out entirely.

  • Here Here!, writes Michael Arrington at TechCrunch: "It’s hard to argue with the evidence Danny Sullivan laid out. Whether Google is doing business with the Chinese government in 2006 or pulling out of the market in 2010 they make the same argument that good v. evil dictates their actions... Their hypocrisy on China is stunning."
  • This Is Clumsy on Google's Part,  writes Henry Blodget at Business Insider: "The Chinese government's censorship is deeply annoying, but it's far from the worst thing the Chinese government has done (Tiananmen jumps to mind).  Unless Google's move forces the Chinese government to back down, which seems highly unlikely, it will go for nought.  The company will also be able to do less to help Chinese citizens by being blocked on the outside than by doing the best it could on the inside."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.