Thursday, June 9, 2016

China's Search Engines (Except One) Stop Notifying Users of Political Censorship

The following screenshots show that, at some time between mid-March and the end of May, 2016, China's three major search engines - Baidu, Sogou, and Qihoo - stopped displaying a censorship notice for the phrase "China's Last Leader" (中国最后领导人). Instead, Baidu and Qihoo tell users they are unable to find any search results, and Sogou returns a blank page.

It is unclear exactly when these search engines stopped displaying their censorship notices, but these screenshots show that, in the case of Baidu, it happened in mid-May.

This screenshot was taken in July 2009, and shows that Baidu had been placing a censorship notice at the top of certain search results for at least 7 years.

These screenshots show that, while Baidu has not always censored terms like "Tiananmen Massacre," it continued to do so in June 2016, and the only thing that has changed is that it is no longer informing users when it does.

This screenshot was taken on June 9, 2016, and shows that the PRC-based version of Microsoft's Bing search engine was still notifying users when it censored search results pursuant to a government order.