Google Is Being Protested By Their Own Employees
August 17, 2018
Recently, Google decided to make its way into the belly of China’s tech culture. While China has become a huge center for business and technology over the past decade, it’s also completely cut off from it in other ways. China is extremely restrictive of the ways their citizens can view and find information online. From the movies they watch to the news they read, everything is governed and censored before being distributed.
Websites such as YouTube are restricted from Chinese citizens, although many find loopholes to view and enjoy videos on these sites. Some web content, such as pornography, is even illegal in the country, boasting sentences from 3-years to life in prison, depending on whether it’s being watched or distributed by the offender.
In a world where so much information is hidden, restricted, and censored, it seems impossible for an information powerhouse like Google to succeed, and yet they’re trying. This latest move into China’s tech industry has got Western Google employees shaking their heads in outrage. Google has always been seen as an information highway and been accessible to all who visit it. Now, Google will be censoring its sites and information for the Chinese government, turning the once accessible search engine giant into a completely different beast.
More than 1000 Google employees are outraged by their need to censor and modify materials in a project which has been nicknamed, “dragonfly”. The argument stems from the fact that workers feel they are making ethically questionable changes to online information. Possibly negating to tell the truth, or even creating mistruths to feed the Chinese webspace based on rules set in place by their government.
While in China, these changes are legal and “necessary”, in America, this altering of news and information would be considered dishonest and even illegal. It has Google employees questioning the values of the company, themselves, and the Chinese government, in a debate which is growing by the minute.
This protest is similar to one Google saw in past years regarding something called project Maven, which was a government issued drone imaging project with questionable privacy motives. Due to the strong opinion of employees and the outrage of Americans following the debate, Google chose not to renew its contract with the pentagon over project Maven. Will project dragonfly see a similar display of unity by Google or will the company buck convention and continue its efforts to infiltrate the Chinese airspace?
This is new territory for Google, as it marks the first time the company has tried to organize its values and content to coincide with Chinese government standards. Entering the Chinese webspace could be detrimental to the global success of Google, which currently is being missed by much of the Asian and African community. Areas where low internet access is present, or where content is banned, such as in China, causes Google’s own popularity ranking and subsequent income to seem smaller than it is or has the potential to become.
Could Google Employees Make A Difference?
It might seem to the outside world as though 1000 measly protesters can’t make a difference in a grand-scale Google change like this, but you might be surprised. As with project Maven, sometimes it only takes a few to make a difference, if the right information is being shared. While there’s not yet much knowledge of what Google will censor or change, it makes it difficult for the public to form a well-informed opinion and make their own demands, but it certainly creates a spark for change.
Google may or may not take into consideration the current demands of its employees, although it could mean that Google will need to hire outside help to complete their Chinese information censoring. Will this mean having a home base in China, firing and hiring new employees for the project, or will it mean shutting down the project altogether? While the latter seems highly unlikely, there’s always a chance.
Public Opinion on These Changes
As mentioned, with so little information available, public opinion may be skewed as not all of the facts are currently present. It does seem that those in the Western public are currently upset by the potential changes to Google’s otherwise open availability, yet Chinese citizens seem excited to be accessing something which has otherwise been deprived to them. China has its own search engines, news sites, social media, chat platforms, and video streaming websites. They don’t necessarily need Google to succeed online and have been doing just fine without it. However, having access to new information and websites is always exciting, especially to a country which has only made its way into the modern age over the past few decades.
How much will Google change and will the search engine cause problems for the Chinese government in the future? There’s no way to tell at present, but if the site is as successful overseas as it is in North America, there’s no limit to where Google could go once it lands in China’s webspace. It could mean huge changes for the Chinese population and government, but it also poses problems for the government when it comes to money spent monitoring the content, even if it’s being censored.
For more information on Google’s future success and impending introduction throughout China, check back for updates or visit Google’s official page for news. Only time will tell whether this new Google launch will be a success or a flop.