Google has quitely removed its keyword “censorship notification” feature for its search engine services in China that had been censored by the Chinese government’s internet controls.
According to GreatFire, the change was made sometime between December 5 and December 8, 2012, with no official statement from Google to announce or explain its removal.
In addition, Google has also deleted a help article which explained how to use the feature, reports the blog stating, “Since the removal of the help article could only be done willingly by Google, the only explanation we see is that Google struck a deal with the Chinese government, giving in to considerable pressure to self-censor,” it writes.
Adding further, the blog notes the move “indicates a new development in the relationship between the Chinese government and Google.”
Here is the message that Google would dispaly when keyword censorship happen:
And, here is the screen of the Google’s help article (via) explaining the anti-censorship feature:
Typing one of the many keywords blocked by the Great Firewall, “this message would inform the user that continuing the search would probably break the user’s connection.”
It was a bold step towards exposing the censorship that the authorities desperately try to hide.
This was a remarkable victory against censorship. Unfortunately, Google switched off the embedded function for Chinese users sometime between December 5 and December 8. Why did they pull the switch?”
In other China releated search new, the Chinese search engine Baidu, is working on a new image search feature for facial recognition that allow users upload an image of a person and Baidu will try to return matching photos, with information on the name of the person.
Google does have a similar feature named “Search By Image” since June of 2011. Another, Google feature “Find My Face” in Google+ also helps users search similiar images of a person.