On August 1, The Intercept reported that Alphabet Inc, parent company of Google, is developing a search engine for the Chinese market.
Leaked internal documents outline what is dubbed as the “Dragonfly” project, which would “blacklist sensitive queries” within the authoritarian country long-known for censorship.
Google pulled out of China in 2010 a move seen as part of their “don’t be evil” principle (Christian Science Monitor). It’s unclear why Google reversed its decision by developing project “Dragonfly.” Securities Daily, a Chinese-owned paper, denies Alphabet is re-entering the Chinese market. Though anonymous Google employees have told Reuters and The Intercept that Dragonfly is real and still in operation.
The China Communist Party, which has controlled the country for close to 70 years, prohibits mention of topics deemed harmful to the government. This includes certain current events, and of course what are known as the “Three T’s,” which are Tiananmen Square, Tibet and Taiwan (The Diplomat). These taboo issues respectively expose China’s quelling of dissent, religious suppression and ethnic Chinese people who’ve developed a democratic society.
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Why is Alphabet Inc. entering the Chinese market?
Since Google left China in 2010, Apple Inc. has thrived in the country which leads the world in mobile app downloads. Apple sold $38.5 billion in apps in 2017, compared to Google’s $20 billion (Sensor Tower).
How could a Google search engine differentiate itself from existing Chinese competitors
Baidu accounts for 74 percent of online searches in China (Forbes). Though the company is dogged for unscrupulous ads and content, especially as it relates to health. The Chinese government began regulating search engine ads in 2016 after a student died following healthcare recommendations that he found on Baidu.