Google Says Its Services Are Now Blocked in China, Chinese Residents Say Otherwise

Can somebody in China help us out? Google’s updates page says its service are now unavailable in the PRC, but actual human reports suggest otherwise.


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.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).


About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law