More Chinese Censorship At Google? I Think Not

Zhang Lin's translated account on Epoch Times, My Experience of Google's Censorship, explains how a search on his name at Google reveals tons of "omitted" results, another apparent sign of Google caving into the Chinese authorities.

Well, almost certainly not. It's pretty normal that if you go to the "end" of results for any query on Google with a lot of matches, you'll get an "omitted" message. This is Google's way of telling you that there are a lot of pages it considers similar to each other.

OK, it is annoying that when you go through some of these omitted results, they may indeed turn out to be more unique that what Google's automated processes think. But that's a Google indexing problem, not a conspiracy with China.

Heck, search for my name, Danny Sullivan, on Google. When you get out to the 816th (or so) result, you'll notice Google comes up with this message:

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 816 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

It's fair to say, China had nothing to do with "omitting" these results that seem largely about me from the initial Google search. The same is almost certainly the case with Zhang Lin's situation.

Zhang Lin's also upset that Google's "Chinese Department" failed to correct an "obvious mistake" of not listing him tops. Another sign of Chinese government interference?

If so, then perhaps the race car driver Danny Sullivan will be complaining to the US government that Google fails to list him at the top of Google's results instead of me, clearly another obvious mistake. Or in reality, just a sign that relevancy is in the eye of the beholder (for more on this, see my In Search Of The Relevancy Figure article).

Any search engine censorship of material in response to national laws is a concern to searchers (and nor as I've written is Google alone in doing this). But it's also a concern that censorship may be assumed, when it actually doesn't appear to be the case. That's the situation as far as I can see it here.

In a related story, Google China censorship: more mentions a program those in China can use to overcome filtering and mentions that Yahoo China does filtering as well.