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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Big Ayatollah and Big Brother vs. Google

Friday, June 19, 2009

Big Ayatollah and Big Brother vs. Google

Economists generally assume that firms maximize profits, not just in the current period, but overtime.  Maintaining this assumption, The people at Google seem to have adopted very different strategies for dealing with the Iranian and Chinese governments perhaps suggesting that Google's owners and management (Google) believe the Chinese government will survive and the Iranian government will not. 

(HT Drudge)  An unnamed author writes in "Google vows to fight porn in China after govt rebuke," dated June19, 2009 that,
Internet giant Google promised Friday to work harder to eliminate pornography from its Chinese Web pages as state media reported authorities had shut down some of its search services.

"Google has continually taken measures against vulgar content, particularly material that is harmful to children, on the Internet in China," a statement by the company said.

"Google is currently stepping up its efforts in this regard."

...China has vowed to crack down on Internet content that it deems unhealthy, including pornography and information critical of authorities.
While Google reluctantly submits to Chinese government officials, their response in Iran has been to support consumers.  Alexei Oreskovic of Reuters writes in "Google translation tool aims to improve Iran info access," on June 19, 2009 that Google has improved its product for the Iranian market.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc released a tool that translates Internet blogs, news articles and text messages from English to Persian, and vice-versa, in a move the firm said will "improve access to information" amid the turmoil and media restrictions following Iran's disputed election.

The move is the latest example of the growing role that consumer Internet technology is playing in the wake of Iran's most serious political unrest since the Islamic revolution 30 years ago.

Google Principal Scientist Franz Och, who heads Google's translation group, said in an interview with Reuters that given the recent events in Iran it was a "natural idea" to help people get access to information and to communicate.

"This tool will improve access to information for people inside and outside", Iran, said Och.


  1. Its amazing to me the problems that governments have had controlling such a free flowing thing like the internet. in so many ways i question the effort in putting large amounts of money and pressure to control it. I remember during the olympics, the chinese government required any news coming out of china to be monitored by the government before it could be released. whatever the original intent for the connection computer to computer we have now, its interesting to look at some of the twists and turns that nobody saw coming.
    your student,
    Evan Barfield

  2. Derrick Villa19/6/09 8:27 PM

    Google is quick to act in modifying and enhancing their product to the consumer markets needs. Concerning the internet I can’t even think of the starting process that goes into trying to control and edit material placed on the World Wide Web nor would I even want to try. Its obvious Google sees the need of the altering their product the each consumers specifications to continue and increase the use (demand) of their product. Here they are clearly providing a product, a search engine site for the sole purpose/function of searching materials and still Google acts in meeting the needs of others to go beyond that main purpose. Workers of Google clearly present technological knowledge in their fields by understanding the needs of consumers and producing new services as a result, like the Google translation tool.

  3. Jacinta Tatman20/6/09 10:13 PM

    It's quite interesting to see the huge influence that the media has. Years ago, no one would have thought that CNN would be on twitter asking you to send them tweets. W can clearly see that because the media has so much control, they can pick and choose who they feel needs more access to information that they are putting out. Companies do what is best for them. Google didn't want to lose China's money, and also saw that they could gain from making changes for those living in Iran.

    While I think both are great ideas to implement, I am more curious about the intentions.

  4. Rob Ekwerekwu22/6/09 2:13 PM

    Google is trying to do something Yahoo, Aol, and many other media outlets won't do and that is adapt. Google is appealing to their consumers needs which in turn will bring them more demand and ultimately supply. With the Chinese Government it could be a positive externality because Google is retaining China's money while also helping get rid of porn and harmful material to the citizens in China. Also, a positive externality is present in Iran with the translating tool that will help with the political fued in the election process and much more. Ultimately, Google is looking into a bright future with the adaptation to the consumers.

  5. I think it is great what google is trying to do, but is it worth the expense. If the pornography is such a problem the parents need to have better supervision over there children. Overall, what google is trying to do with eliminating the bad on the internet through there cite and the translation is very good for our country.

    Your student,
    Cameron Curry

  6. In trying to eliminate the pornography and create a translator, Google is appealing to more customers in an effort to "maximize their profit" which is generally all firms motivation in their business. This competitive firm will likely succeed in maximizing its profit because of the smart decisions the business is making.

    Student-Marley Huckabee