Alternate Reality

Google: Just Kidding About That Whole China Thing

Search giant admits that controversy over Chinese search censorship was merely an elaborate April Fools’ Day gag. “We can’t believe you fell for it,” says Google.

By (@tynanwrites)

April 1, 2010

The story you're about to read is not (entirely) true. It is, however, more accurate than most things on network television.

In what has proven to be its most sophisticated April Fools’ Day prank ever, Google admitted this morning that the uncensoring of its Chinese language search engine is actually a hoax.

In an post to the Official Google Blog, company co-founder Sergey Brin wrote:

Really, we’re just kidding. Did you honestly believe we’d abandon a market with 1.3 billion people in it for Falun Gong and the Dalai Lama? I don’t think so. As of April 2 we are relaunching our site, with full content-filtering in place.

The search and advertising giant, which asks its engineers to devote 20 percent of their time to coming up with April Fools’ jokes each year, is famous for its elaborate pranks. But in recent years the company has had an increasingly hard time fooling people on April 1, Brin admitted.

"So this year we decided to start a little earlier than usual," he wrote. "It began in January when we said we’d be uncensoring our Chinese search engine, followed by our announcement two weeks ago that we’d actually done it. Boy did we have you guys fooled."

China played along with the gag and even added its own twists, such as causing Google’s corporate Web site to display in Chinese and redirecting the entire Web to servers inside the Great Firewall. Rumors that the two companies were locked in tense negotiations added to the credibility of the hoax, Brin noted.

A spokesperson for the Beijing government issued the following statement:

"We are honored to take part in your quaint American foolish tradition, and we look forward to many more years of repressing our citizens while manufacturing all of your cell phones."

Over the years, Google’s April Fools’ Day hoaxes have become legendary. Last year it introduced "CADIE," an artificial intelligence program based on the brain of a 10-year-old Japanese girl. In 2008 it announced plans to merge with Virgin Galactic to form a new company ("Virgle") that would establish the first permanent human settlement on Mars. And on April 1, 2004 Google introduced Gmail, which continues to be used by millions of people despite being a complete joke.

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