Tattling to China Censors a Competitive Weapon for Content/Ad Companies

  |  April 24, 2006   |  Comments

Reading the NYT's weekend feature on Google and China, I was surprised to learn companies there commonly turn each other in to government censors, and that this fate befell Google in 2002, after which the engine was first shut down by officials and lost its big head start there. Among Chinese Internet execs, the common belief is that, before Google opened an office there and before it ever agreed to censor its results, the company found itself blocked because competitor Baidu went straight to government censors with a list of all the bad Tiananmen Square and Falun Gong stuff the search engine was successfully pushing through the country's filters

Reading the NYT's weekend feature on Google and China, I was surprised to learn companies there commonly turn each other in to government censors, and that this fate befell Google in 2002, after which the engine was first shut down by officials and lost its big head start there.

Among Chinese Internet execs, the common belief is that, before Google opened an office there and before it ever agreed to censor its results, the company found itself blocked because competitor Baidu went straight to government censors with a list of all the bad Tiananmen Square and Falun Gong stuff the search engine was successfully pushing through the country's filters. (Presumably the content came in the form of cached snippets viewable in the search results pages, since the country could easily block the sites that content came from.) As Clive Thompson writes in the article, "In China, the censorship regime is not only a political tool; it is also a competitive one – a cudgel that private firms use to beat one another with."

Before the shutdown, Google held about 24 percent of all searches in China, the story reports. Afterwards, none. How much ad revenue did it lose? To what degree was it even monetizing its China traffic then? I'm honestly not sure. If you happen to know, do let me know.

Anyway, I just thought it worth noting that content and search players in China must not only cultivate good relations with the censors, but self-censor to such a degree as to present an opulent face to any competitor that might turn them over in the interest of eating their ad revenues. And as the story notes:

Intimidation and "self-regulation" are, in fact, critical to how the party communicates its censorship rules to private-sector Internet companies... Internet executives in China most likely censor far more material than they need to. The Chinese system relies on a classic psychological truth: self-censorship is always far more comprehensive than formal censorship.

ClickZ Live New York What's New for 2015?
You spoke, we listened! ClickZ Live New York (Mar 30-Apr 1) is back with a brand new streamlined agenda. Don't miss the latest digital marketing tips, tricks and tools that will make you re-think your strategy and revolutionize your marketing campaigns. Super Saver Rates are available now. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zachary Rodgers

Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects. 

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING TRAINING

Featured White Papers

Google My Business Listings Demystified

Google My Business Listings Demystified
To help brands control how they appear online, Google has developed a new offering: Google My Business Locations. This whitepaper helps marketers understand how to use this powerful new tool.

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line
82 percent of shoppers say they would buy more items from a brand if the emails they sent were more personalized. This white paper offer five tactics that will personalize your email beyond the subject line and drive real business growth.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • Customer Service Consultant
      Customer Service Consultant (Bonner and Partners) - Delray BeachBonner & Partners: Full-time Customer Service Consultant Position Who we are...
    • Financial Editor
      Financial Editor (Confidential) - DurhamSIX FIGURE EDITORS WANTED: To enforce lofty NEW editing standards. Easy Conditions Unlikely. Promotion and...
    • Information Processing Specialist
      Information Processing Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreInformation Processing Specialist – The IP specialist position ensures the successful...