Researchers: Search engine censorship has impact

Indiana University researchers have created a Web site that highlights differences in query results provided by country-specific search engines, such as the version of Google built to accommodate China's free-speech restrictions.

The idea behind CenSEARCHip is to determine the impact countries' censorship laws have on search results. The project was largely inspired by the system that Google decided to create earlier this year for China (Yahoo and MSN have followed suit).

"We wanted to explore the results returned by major search engines and in so doing to foster an informed debate on the impact of search censorship on information access throughout the world," said Filippo Menczer, associate professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University, in a statement. He spearheaded the project, along with Mark Meiss, a computer science doctoral student.

The CenSEARCHip site shows side-by-side query results from the different countries' search engine versions. It uses "tag clouds" to highlight terms used more or less often by the different search engines.

Indeed, the search engines do produce significantly different results on searches about political topics, such as human rights and democracy, Meiss says. A search on Tiananmen Square, for example, results in many text references and images of the Chinese government crackdown on protesters in 1989 on the U.S. search site, but mainly hotel and tourist information on the Chinese version.

Limited access to information is not exclusive to the Chinese versions of the search engines though, the researchers said. French and German sites, for instance, commonly block neo-Nazi hate sites.

Separately, Google will likely have to turn over search-engine usage records to the Department of Justice following a hearing Tuesday in which the judge indicated he will probably order the company to comply with a government subpoena, according to published reports.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Network World staff

Network World (US online)
Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?