Last week, Google announced that it has been developing a version of their search engine as well as a news service designed specifically for China and strict Chinese censorship laws.
Google has previously refused to cooperate with the Chinese government over elements of their technology that could be used to filter out content that the Chinese government deems problematic. Generally speaking, the censored content tends to be sites and news that criticize China’s communist regime and encourages the organization and education of democratic activists, or any other information that contradicts China’s version of its role in the 20th-century and the heinous acts it committed against foreign nations and its own citizens.
After originally defying the Chinese government, Google received praise from politicians and business leaders for taking a stance in favor of freedom of speech and unhampered access to accurate news and information.
Now that it has come to light that Google is cooperating with China’s demands, Google is experiencing a massive wave of backlash. Public opinion of the company has seen a sharp decline, across many demographic categories.
Economic analysts have put forth that Google is simply pursuing a major untapped market, and working within the belief that both the people of China and the company’s own shareholders will ultimately benefit greatly from this redaction of former policy.
Google’s reputation for respecting the rights of users was also recently damaged by news that the company’s email service, Gmail, allows for Google to read and delete emails, which can be misused for data mining.
This also comes at a time when the public is demanding stricter protection of user data from tech companies. In particular, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal weakened trust in the social media site and ultimately led to a drastic drop in Facebook’s standing in the stock market.