Skip to main content

Tip Sheets

Could Google’s censored search engine penetrate China’s ‘Great Firewall’?

Media Contact

Jeff Tyson

Google is testing a censored search engine for the Chinese market, according to news reports that broke this month, and the tech giant is taking criticism from human rights advocates and even employees. But a censored Google search engine in China might actually help Chinese citizens by drawing attention to censorship and upending the status quo little by little, according to a strategy and business economics expert at Cornell University.


Thomas Jungbauer

Assistant professor of strategy and business economics

Thomas Jungbauer, assistant professor of strategy and business economics at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, has written an opinion piece in The Washington Post, arguing that a censored Google search engine in China could actually play its part in disrupting the Communist Party’s control over the internet.

Jungbauer says:

“According to the Intercept, Google’s censored Mandarin search engine — developed under the internal project name Dragonfly — would automatically filter sites blocked by the government, removing them from the first page of search results and replacing them with a disclaimer disclosing government censorship. The Intercept also reports that no results would appear for ‘blacklist sensitive queries.’

“It’s unclear whether banned content would be available beyond the first page of search results. It’s possible that links would be available — at least initially — beyond the first page, offering valuable details to users about what authorities are censoring. But Google could still do some good even if China required the company to remove banned content from all pages in its search engine.

“Disclaimers on blocked sites would serve as a constant reminder of the state’s ubiquitous censorship. They could also indicate to users which topics the Chinese authorities don’t want openly discussed. The bigger Google’s market share in China, the more effective this reminder would be.”


Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.