News

Google reviews China search engine, buys time

Google has been blocked in China for years now. Last year, news surfaced of Google working on Project Dragonfly, a censored version of Google for China. Dragonfly was intended to give Google a way back to the country, give it access to a huge user base, and give Chinese internet users access to more information. Since the report on Project Dragonfly, Google has received multiple bad press from the US.

US Government Forces Google to Review DragonFly

Yesterday, Google deny reports that it is still working on Project Dragonfly. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said last year that Google had “no plans” to launch the “right now” censored search engine. The carefully chosen words seems to indicate that it is forced upon Google to review its ambition for China. The US government and Google employees seems to be the culprit behind Google’s decision to review its relationship with China. Google employees went as far as protesting, Evidently, pressuring Google to review Dragonfly is more important than working on improving its algorithm or going after businesses who buy Google reviews (or even getting them for free!). Even Vice President Mike Pence also stepped in to tell Google to stop working on the project and teased that the search giant should focus on dealing with fake Google reviews instead before the FTC steps in.

Google Review on DragonFly Insufficient

However, Google employees are not convinced. In December, employees spotted about 500 changes to code related to Dragonfly. A month later, yet another 400 changes were made to the code, indicating to the employees that the entire project was still going on. They also scrutinized the company’s budgeting plans and found evidence that under the spending budget associated with Project Dragonfly about 100 workers were still being grouped.

Anna Bacciarelli, a technology review at Amnesty International, said, “[Google is] not only failing on its human rights responsibilities but ignoring the hundreds of Google employees, more than 70 human rights organizations, and hundreds of thousands of campaign supporters around the world who have all called on the company to respect human rights and drop Dragonfly.”

All in all, many are still left wondering if the Google review intention is indeed to cancel the DragonFly project and its China ambition or merely buying time to relaunch in China.

China’s Tencent puts $150M Investment into Reddit [upvote]

Reddit is a community where people share content on the web with news, articles, media and many other things. Members can upvote and downvote the posts that they like and as of 2018 has more than 500 million monthly visitors. Reddit confirmed the investment deal, saying it raised $300 million in a funding round led by Tencent and joined by several existing investors. The deal gave Reddit a $3 billion market value post money.

User Backlash Tops Reddit Upvotes

Redditors voiced fears about censorship — and shared many pictures of Winnie the Pooh (censored in China for being to used to mock president Xi Jinping) and Tiananmen Square. The posts quickly made it to the top of r/pics, one of the most popular subreddits on Reddit, with the highest Reddit upvotes. Reddit users posted threads and memes ridiculing the investment, arguing that Reddit would be challenging freedom of expression outside China. This one particular post recorded over 200,000 Reddit upvotes, easily one the highest Reddit upvotes ever recorded. This is especially impressive considering there were no evidence of upvote tempering (i.e. buy instant Reddit upvotes) on the post, suggesting that the hundreds of thousands of Reddit upvotes were in fact genuine.

Pro Investment Received Much Lower Reddit Upvotes

Not all Redditors are against the investment though. Some argue that Reddit has definitely gone from being the best website for comprehensive information sharing and lengthy debate over the past 5 years to being one of the most censored websites on the Internet, with many subs secretly (no notification or reason given when any content is removed) removing more than 40 percent of the content. Others argued that $150 million investment is not a controlling share in the company, which was valued at $3 billion post investment.