- Google used one of the sites it owns in China to test a censored search engine.
- The site is 265.com, which Google acquired in 2008.
- China’s government has indicated Google is welcome back as long as it follows the law.
Details continue to trickle out about Google’s work on a search engine built specifically to appease the Chinese government, which keeps a tight grip on the flow of information in that country.
To refine the search engine, Google engineers relied on samples of search queries obtained from 265.com, a Chinese-based web directory that Google acquired in 2008, the Intercept reported Wednesday.
It was the Intercept that broke the news last week, that Google was building a search engine that complied with China’s strict ban on certain web sites and search terms. The move would be a reversal of a 2010 decision by the company to pull search operations out of China rather than censor information.
The apparent flip-flop brought heaps of criticism on Google’s leadership, from politicians, media pundits, and even some employees. Earlier this year, Google appeared to put some distance between itself and the military when it promised never to use artificial intelligence to build weapons or cause harm.
Many people asked why Google refused to work with the US military but was seeking to help a communist government supress free speech. One group that wasn’t critical of Google’s decision was the Chinese government. Chinese state media welcomed Google back to the country, saying things will be fine as long as the company follows the law, according to a story in The Washington Post.
Right now, Google.com and some of the companies other services, such as YouTube are not accessible in China, but 265.com is not blocked, the Intercept reported.
“It appears that Google,” the Intercept wrote, “has used 265.com as a de facto honeypot for market research, storing information about Chinese users’ searches before sending them along to Baidu (Google’s largest competitor in China).”
Google did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.