Google censoring searches in China again

02/08/2018
google-logos

Google has a new logo and updating its image – but under the surface it’s still that pre-2010 half-evil censor

Eight years after Google pulled out of the censored Chinese internet, they’re back.  It’s been reported that the company is working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and allow it to reenter the Chinese market.

Google has engaged in the China-controlled internet space before: but in 2010 it pulled out, citing censorship and hacking as reasons.  It didn’t pull out completely – it still offered a number of apps to Chinese users, including Google Translate and Files Go, and the company has offices in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai – But the largest of its services – search, email, and the Play app store – are all unavailable in the country.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Guardian in 2010 that his opposition to enabling censorship was motivated to his being born in Soviet Russia.   “It touches me more than other people having been born in a country that was totalitarian and having seen that for the first few years of my life,” he said as Google exited the Chinese market after 4 years of cooperating with the authorities.

But now they’re back, working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and black-listed material.  The app is being designed for Android devices.

According to tech-based news site The Information, Google is also working on a censored news-aggregation app too. The news app would take its lead from popular algorithmically-curated apps such as Bytedance’s Toutiao – released for the Western market as “TopBuzz” – that eschew human editors in favour of personalised, highly viral content.

Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, called Google’s return to censorship “a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom.”

In putting profits before human rights, he said, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory.

This is important because many computer users will set a search site as their homepage and even find content by entering key-words into the url bar of their browser.  Because of Google’s ubiquity, it is frequently set as default search engine on browsers, meaning that millions of users will find that their experience of the internet is that delivered through the lens of Google.  If that lens is smudged or cracked by censorship, all these users’ internet experience is skewed.  So it is essential to highlight the fact that Google is not the neutral, trustworthy agent that many users think it to be.

GreatFire, an organisation that monitors internet censorship and enables circumvention of the “Great Firewall of China”, said the move “could be the final nail in the Chinese internet freedom coffin” and that “the ensuing crackdown on freedom of speech will be felt around the globe.”

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MappFest: A free festival in 2016?

28/01/2016

“A free festival in England, in 2016?  You lie!”

No, I’m not lying.  Not according to the MappFest 2016 website, anyway.  They say, and I quote:

MappFest 2016

Held on Malvern Link Top Common
Saturday June 18th 12.00-10.00
and Sunday June 19th 12.00-6.00pm 2016

This will be the Seventh annual Music festival bringing back the glory days of the 70’s and 80’s. A true family event we enjoy the best live music from around the area supporting LIVE Music, local small businesses and the community spirit that just oozes from the event.

MappFest is a non-religious, non-political independent music-based festival.  “Music, Sunshine, Bar, Rides and Food what more could you ask for!” as their site puts it.  Everything is sponsored or donated so every penny raised goes to their nominated Charities:

  • Acorns
  • St Richards Hospice
  • Community Action Malvern & District

mappfest-2016

It’s the seventh year in a row of the annual MappFest.  Unlike the free festivals of old, it’s a “family event” which I take to mean no Brew Crew, no petrol bombs, no repetitive beats 24 hours a day for the weekend.  But it’s free, there’s music and entertainment, and any profits go to “good causes”.  So if you’re free Sat 18 June and/or Sun 19 June, why not check it out?  It’ll be on MALVERN LINK TOP COMMON – if you don’t know Malvern, follow the signs to Malvern Link and I expect the festival site will become apparent.

IF YOU’RE A PERFORMER OR BAND MEMBER you have to apply to take part – and applications must be in by 31 JANUARY – that’s in 3 days.  Sorry for the short notice, but I found out about MappFest not long ago.  Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  If you want to take part go to www.mappfest.co.uk and click on the Apply for MappFest tab.  They’re looking for sponsors, stall-holders and volunteers too, so go check it out.  You might be able to sell some of those friendship bracelets and ethnic art you spend all your time making!

Seriously, if you can, go check it out.  I will – it’s close to where I live and there will be live music – I love live music!  And it’s free.  Free often equates with good (not always, but mostly).  And it’s better than spending the weekend sitting on the sofa moaning that you’ve got nothing to do, right?

Go to www.mappfest.co.uk and have a look.  Or I’ll track you down and flay you.  Yes, I’m looking at you!!

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