Some server error has severely pranked the mainstream international media. Google declared itself blocked in China for all services except for Gmail sometime early this morning. Strangely enough though, everyone actually in China was still able to access everything they’d been able to access before.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Google said its images and news services were partially blocked, but noted that Gmail was still fully or mostly accessible within the country. The information was provided by the company on a website page that summarizes the accessibility to Google services from within mainland China.
The blockages appear to be the first significant disruption of Google services since the company was granted a key license renewal earlier this month that enabled it to continue operating its website in China.
Other accounts, by the Associated Press, Bloomberg, the AFP and so on echoed those facts, with sentiments such as how it raises “more questions about the Internet company’s ability to operate in the country while trying to work around the government’s online censorship policies (AP)” and “concern that authorities still aren’t satisfied with how the company complies with local law.” Reuters even got an analyst to talk about what the Google block meant – yes, they contacted an analyst before checking to see what was actually blocked.
Bet it made all of you who did Google searches this morning only to find this news really confused, right? As Rebecca MacKinnon notes on her blog (which, ironically, IS blocked in China):
…no journalist has actually confirmed with a human being at Google that this information is correct. What’s more, I’ve heard from several dozen people all over China who say that Google isn’t blocked for them when they access it on their Internet connections from Beijing to Shanghai to Sichuan to Hunan.
I have yet to hear from a single person who can’t access Google search in Mainland China…
So what happened? Well, besides probably overtired wire reporters competing to get their stories out before every other wire reporter (and I empathize, I really really do), Google says it may have just been a temporary hiccup. In a statement sent to Read Write Web, they said:
“Because of the way we measure accessibility in China, it’s possible that our machines could overestimate the level of blockage. That seems to be what happened last night when there was a relatively small blockage. It appears now that users in China are accessing our properties normally.
“Please also note that the dashboard is not a real time tool.”