Google Censorship Viewer: US vs. China
Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Search Censorship Viewer, US vs. China (Google)

On Wednesday, 25 January 2006, Google began providing filtered search results on Google.CN, contributing to the Chinese government’s ongoing
of the internet. This side-by-side viewer is intended to illustrate the implications of this censorship by providing side-by-side comparisons for search terms.

A few interesting queries:

It seems that, even for terms like “democracy” and “freedom“, Google.CN still returns a reasonably good spread of links. Whether or not these pages can be accessed from within China itself is a far different issue, of course.

Please leave a comment if you find any search terms with frighteningly different results between the two versions; I’d be interested what other people can find.

11 Responses to “Google Censorship Viewer: US vs. China”

  1. Anonymous Says:


  2. lopolis Says:

    This is great. Going back and forth on two different browser tabs was getting tiring.

    Interesting that they don’t censor the common misspelling of “tianamen”

  3. lopolis Says:

    Check out the first image result for “communism”

    Going through a bunch of web and image results I’ve found a few omissions from results, different result ordering, and some but not all Western sources are missing. BBC, Washington Post and CBC (to name a few) articles seem to be missing entirely from China results, but you can find the organizations if you search for them directly. Some CNN results still appear, along with smaller news sources or affiliates.

    “kim jong il” – web search, notice no BBC or Washington Post
    “free tibet” – images, different order
    “censorship” – images, naked Dixie Chicks are missing

    “sex” – compare SafeSearch on and off in English, and what I think is the SafeSearch radio button in Chinese. China’s two (not three) settings seem to be “Strict” and “Ever-so-slightly less strict”

  4. Alex Says:

    I was shown .com results in both iframes… perhaps because I’m currently “logged in” to Google?

  5. Hal Says:

    This is very slick.

    Have there been any articles about how the search engines implement the censorship? Does China just provide a list of forbidden URLs? Or a whitelist of sites that are ok for certain terms (eg only show results for Tiananmen from these 50 sites)?

  6. Chris Says:

    Hal –

    I don’t think I’ve seen anything definitively describing how Google (or MSN or Yahoo, for that matter) actually implement this. From what I’ve gathered, China’s specific rules about this seem to change on a fairly frequent basis, usually with little historical reference to previous sets of rules, so it’d be interesting to understand the process.

    There certainly appears to be some kind of explicit white-listing or preferencing going on with any .cn website, as I believe having that extension implies you’ve had to go through compliance discussions with the PRC government.

    But all I’ve got on the “how” of this is pure speculation.

  7. Chris Says:

    Alex –

    Can you try hitting searches like directly in your browser? If you’re seeing Google US results with that, then maybe we’re both missing a required parameter. If you can run a good Google.CN search yourself, could you provide me the URL you’re getting?

  8. Tanner Says:

    I just wanted to thank you for making this, it was a great help in a presentation I had to do about Chinese information oppression.

  9. Sinead Says:

    Ive seen this before but it doesnt seem to be working now, but viewers are the same…..

  10. Chris Says:

    Yeah, something’s changed in the way Google deals with their URL parameters. I haven’t had a chance to look into it and figure it out again (this was technically a hack to start with, I suppose). If anyone out there has the time, I’d certainly love the help in fixing this.

  11. Rinker Says:

    Your browser does not support iframes.

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