It’s been nearly a year since China first shutdown access to Twitter in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, but today Google has opened up the doors again, in a way.
According to an article this morning in the Los Angeles Times, Google has added Twitter search results to its search engine there, “in effect, lifting a nine-month blackout of the microblogging service in China.”
Earlier this week, Google announced that it would stop censoring search results and would redirect visitors from mainland China to Google.com.hk from Google.cn. Already, China has worked to censor search results provided on Google.com.hk.
This latest move by Google is sure to further aggravate an already tense situation, but we have to wonder, as we have before, if it really matters or if we’re looking at it from an ethnocentric point of view. Twitter may have been blocked, but China has several of its own Chinese Twitter clones. So now China can see tweets, which are predominantly not in Mandarin, in Google search results.
Then again, the Los Angeles Times points out that the search results are already bringing sensitive topics into view of Chinese citizens:
The tweets do not show up for all searches, but only for terms that appear to be popular on Twitter. On Thursday morning, that included discussions on such taboo subjects as how to circumvent China’s Internet firewall, why Google decided to exit China and a vaccine scandal unfolding in central China.
The move seems more like a principled slap in the face than anything else. But then again, so does much of this situation.