Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Google and Yahoo Are Evil, Not Microsoft

Microsoft is censoring its portal because its customer, the Chinese State, requires it to, and that's normal free market behavior. However Yahoo and Google are censoring their news to their Chinese customers out of fear. That's pusillanimity.

In today's WSJ Opinion (subscription required):

(Microsoft) has just bowed to the Chinese government by banning (the words 'freedom,' 'democracy' and 'human rights') . If you type them on Microsoft's new portal, a message appears telling you to try different ones. If this weren't insulting enough, the message actually says, according to news reports, "this item should not contain forbidden speech such as profanity. Please enter a different word for this item."

With all respect to the WSJ, blaming Microsoft for satisfying its customer is, well, lefty. Because:

Microsoft formed a joint venture with China's state-funded Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd (SAIL) last month to launch the MSN China web portal.

So the customer is the Chinese Fear State. And Microsoft is publicizing this limitation on its service, so no deception is involved. However:

Yahoo! and Google have also caved in to China. Google chose last year to omit sources the Chinese government does not like from its Google News China edition.

The customers of Google and Yahoo are Chinese users, not the Chinese state. So, in censoring the news they provide, they are violating the trust of these customers, every minute, every day.