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8/5/2009
12:43 PM
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Google China Search Decline Follows Porn Crackdown

Baidu, Google's main search rival in China, has become the most popular search engine in the country.

In the wake of China's campaign to limit the availability of pornographic content online, Google's search market share in the country appears to be declining.

In June, Baidu overtook Google as the number one search engine in China, according to NetApplications.

A NetApplications graph shows that Baidu began gaining search market share late last year and that Google China started slipping in March.

Chinese authorities met with Google executives in June "to discuss problems with the Google.cn service and its serving of pornographic images and content based on foreign language searches," as a Google spokesperson described it at the time.

In January, Chinese authorities criticized Google, Baidu, and other popular Chinese Internet services for pointing people to illegal content.

This year has been particularly bad for politically sensitive anniversaries in China. March 10 marked the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. June 4 marked the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. And October 1 marks the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

As a result, Chinese authorities are determined to enforce their vision of social order. And the worldwide outcry against the government's Green Dam filtering mandate hasn't helped matters.

Last week, according to a report in the English-language China Daily, China's Ministry of Public Security said that it is ramping up its war against online pornography and prostitution, with the help of nine different government and Communist Party departments.

"[T]he crackdown will also target search engines that do not filter pornography," the report says.

Asked whether its falling search share in China could be attributed to content restrictions enacted to comply with the demands of Chinese authorities, a spokesperson for Google China did not respond.

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