Censorship is not a new topic; it has been around in many forms for a long, long time and it looks like it is not going anywhere any time soon. Now it seems more than ever before in the (relatively) short history of the internet has there been so much concern for censorship. With Google Plus Search Your World and SOPA being such hot-button issues right now, it seems there is an endless supply of issues to debate and critique.
One censorship issue that has fallen to the backburner recently is censorship in international markets. This censorship has potential implications for SEO professionals and the international SEO industry as a whole, but those implications are largely dependent on the type of censorship being instituted. With more broad, wide-ranging censorship like that experienced in China, there are greater SEO implications.
Certain social media may not be allowed for example, thus reducing the amount of platforms and online elements that can be optimized,reducing the impact of a campaign.
China, Now India Too?
Just recently, Google recommitted back to China after pulling out much of their operations two years ago over the expansive censorship Chinese authorities levied on the site. Now, it looks like India could be following China’s lead. A lawsuit filed by a citizen of New Delhi requests that internet companies screen for material that could be religiously offensive to Indians before it goes online. Google and Facebook have since filed a motion to dismiss the case in the New Delhi High Court. In a related case, 21 companies are accused of breaking Indian law regarding corrupting material.
This is not a great trend. The judge in the first case made a statement saying India may indeed head down the path set by China and block sites with offensive content. The answer they say: censorship.
The case demands more screening of content before it goes live online. The thing is internet companies like Google and Facebook already have small armies of employees working to remove illegal or offensive content. So is more screening he answer? It could be, but what a daunting thought that is with the amount of data that would need to be reviewed. According to the New York Times, 48 hours of YouTube video are uploaded every 60 seconds and 250million photos are uploaded to Facebook every single day.
In the end, the decision is in the hands of the internet companies if they want to play by the rules of the land, whatever country or international market that may be. They can decide to stay and incur more cost in improving screening processes and technology as well as hiring more people to do the extra work but remain in the market and making money. On the other hand, they could decide it is just not worth it. We shall see what they do decide to do, and with their decisions, see exactly how search engine optimization will be impacted in these markets.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!