The Truth Board

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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


In recent years, the internet giant known as Google has gradually come to be seen as a bit of an Orwellian “Big Brother” kind of corporation. Their reach and control over the internet market is unprecedented, establishing dominant claims in email, news, maps, advertising, browsers, and of course—the very heart of our information revolution—search engines. The reach of their massive hand through the virtual realm of cyber space is beginning to give people the chills, raising questions about just how much of our looking at the internet through them is really turning into them looking right back into us?

Yet despite the growing shadow in their public reputation, few of us are aware that Google has actually been taking some very un-Orwellian stances in recent weeks against the forces of censorship, defending both the honor and the principal of free speech. In only a few short decades, the technological phenomenon of the Internet has taken over American life and culture, with unprecedented levels of information and communication at the constant beck and call of our whims. We’ve begun to take for granted what would have been considered a miracle less than half a century ago. We’ve also taken for granted the lack of censorship to this information and communication, a luxury that hasn’t been shared by people in certain other nations outside the United States. This has especially been the case China’s more than 400 million web surfers—that is, until Google recently decided to stand up to Beijing’s code of silence.

While it could hardly be called a David and Goliath type of stand-off, Google’s recent move is nonetheless quite admirable from a strictly ethical perspective. The internet giant recently decided to reroute all traffic to it’s Chinese site,, to it’s uncensored Hong Kong site,, effectively giving mainland users an open doorway to the boundless realms of the world wide web. Technically speaking, this move is not illegal under Chinese law, but it definitely represents a direct attack on the government’s censorship policies by using a loophole in the laws.

China could theoretically respond by adding Google to its censorship list of banned websites, but experts agree this is unlikely considering the site’s large loyal following is made up of a highly educated, vocal, and somewhat volatile segment of the Chinese population. So instead, the government has responded by pressuring its domestic companies to cut all business deals with Google, most notably in the mobile phone market. The companies are buckling to the government’s demands, and the move is definitely affecting Google’s profit revenue and market share in the nation. Yet Google is still holding fast to its decision.

Every market analyst agrees that it is a risky gambit. Without a doubt, Google’s move is really more motivated by money than ethics, with Google’s official statement on the incident admitting outright that more freedom of information is simply good for their business. Google is banking on the hope that the Chinese people are hungry to gain access to all the information they have otherwise been denied. The social and political implications of this move are still huge though, regardless of motivations. Suddenly, those without a voice in the teeming masses of more than a billion censored people will now potentially have a giant megaphone to platform their opinions.

If Google’s calculations prove right, they will not only have reinforced their popularity in the largest growing internet market in the world, they will also have successfully subverted one of the more oppressive global governments as well. Instead of becoming Big Brother, they’re becoming a channel for the resistance, which is frankly pretty cool of them. Maybe Google will turn out to be less like an Orwellian Big Brother and more like you’re the big brother who always has your back and protects you from bullies. Only these bullies who aren’t so much after your lunch money as your freedom of speech.

--Paul Beckwith


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