Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Blow Against World Censorship

You may have noticed a lot of news stories about google censoring its China search engine, proving that they are really in it for the money and not for truth, justice or integrity.

A good example is this image search for "tiananmen square" that doesn't bring up a single image of "tank man", the courageous student that stood in front of the army's oncoming tanks just before the massacre started.

Last night, however, I discovered that if you spell "tiananmen" incorrectly you can get plenty of pictures of Tank Man.

If you just search for "tiananmen" one search result comes up (out of eight screens worth). I am guessing this is available only for a limited time. It's mostly beautiful, serene pictures of the square.

Here are the misspelled results.

For contrast, here's what comes up on the non-censored (so far as I know) English Google.

Fellow Revolutionist Ken already wrote about this, but as he is a fluent Chinese speaker and writer he never thought to misspell the words.


  1. when i first read this I was thinking, "HEY! Matt is stealing my blog entry!!!" But kudos to you for giving credit where it's deserved.

    thanks for the great insight though, now I will tell all my chinese friends to misspell their searches so they can get some real results! Excellent!

    now, you have to figure out how let people in China read your blog, because right now blogspot is sensored by the commies.

    If you buy a domain name (like ... then you can transfer your blog onto that domain and I'm sure you can circumvent the censorship.

  2. Domain names are going for like $7/yr right now...

    ... with the added bonus that you could have a email address to boot, instead of having to use that lame "" one...

    Incidentally, Google is really good at handling misspellings, which is why they often give you a "did you mean [blah]" link. The fact that they're not censoring misspellings is a deliberate oversight, in my opinion. It shows that they really are just complying with the barest letter of government regulations to avoid being blocked altogether.

    Which is better: not being able to get any results from Google or only being able to get misspelled results from Google? I vote for the latter...

  3. Hmmm. Google seems to be slipping things in. Check this out:

  4. your link doesn't fully show up ... but even if it links to it, the govt blocks it when you hit the site.

    But of course you can't test it here, you have to try it in China. I had this confirmed by 5+ people already

  5. THat's it! I am flying to China to straighten this all out.