Google's self-censorship: Is compromise evil?

Google's founders famously declared that their guiding principle was: "Don't be evil".

Google is now squirming after accusations that they are conniving in censorship in China by excluding blocked news sources from their Mainland China Google News service. The explanation on Google's blog says:

Links to stories published by blocked news sources would not work for users inside the PRC -- if they clicked on a headline from a blocked source, they would get an error page. It is possible that there would be some small user value to just seeing the headlines. However, simply showing these headlines would likely result in Google News being blocked altogether in China.

Shanghai-based journalist Fons Tuinstra says: "Their argument is simply not valid."

As one commentor on Slashdot observed: So, their new motto is "Don't be evil, unless you have to"?

On the other hand, it is easy to not be evil when you live in Mountain View, Silicon Valley. But any company involved in media in China must make many compromises in order to operate with minimal interference. Google has already been compromised for several years because the cache function is blocked in China. Nonetheless, more information, even if it compromised, is always better than less information.

There is more discussion on the Google block in these places:

Thanks, Google, for introducing intellectual laziness to me.

Daai Tou Laam Diary:
If the goal is the free flow of information in China, then it is misguided to blame Yahoo and Google and Cisco... The goal should be to open new flows of information, both content providers and content delivery systems.

This is very disturbing... Hence, what is so evil about this is not only you deny the right to information. But you have also created, whether intended or not, a spiral of silence.

Slashdot discussion board

That's just business.

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