After the long, storied mess that is Google vs. China, with its accusations of government-sponsored hacking, flimsy workarounds, and censorship debates, Google's legal status and availability in China ended up varying day to day. So the company set up a site that monitors the availability of lots of Google's services, like Search, Images, YouTube, News, Gmail, Blogger, and Picasa, updated daily.
That site is reporting today that several Google services that had previously been available no longer are, including important ones like Search, News, and Images. That's a major change, especially Search--that Google's bread and butter would be shut down in China is major news, and was reported by, among others, Reuters, AP, and the New York Times. Google's shares fell 1.72% at the day's end of trading, in large part due to the news.
But reports on Twitter and elsewhere suggest it's all some sort of misunderstanding. Check the #googlecn hashtag on Twitter for evidence: Users are all saying that it's a false alarm, and that Google is working just fine for them in mainland China. Users in Hunan and Beijing, among other places, confirm that Google is not down at all.
Google finally responded, saying that a "small blockage" caused a misrepresentation of the total block in China. The site set up to monitor the availability of Google services does not do so in real time, so it remained incorrect all day. That statement:
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.