The day Google became Alphabet, Chinese censors went straight to work.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced Monday that Google, the company they founded as a web search engine and later branched out to smartphones, a computer operating system, and even self-driving cars, would be reorganized and rebranded as a new holding company—Alphabet.
And the Chinese regime immediately prevented users behind the “Great Firewall”—the regime’s system for censoring the Internet—from accessing the site. Greatfire.org, the Internet freedom organization that tracks websites blocked in China, tweeted on Tuesday that Alphabet’s website—a domain named abc.xyz—was completely blocked the moment it went live on Monday.
-abc.xyz already blocked in China https://t.co/ALVjBPMWgs
— GreatFire.org (@GreatFireChina) August 11, 2015
Alphabet’s website only contains a letter from Google’s founders as of Tuesday.
“As Sergey and I wrote in the original founders letter 11 years ago, ‘Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.'” opened Larry Page in the letter.
“As part of that, we also said that you could expect us to make ‘smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses.’ From the start, we’ve always strived to do more, and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have.”
News of Google’s restructuring to Alphabet was carried by several state-run and state-funded Chinese media. Chinese netizens quickly caught the irony of the news being reported.
“What is Google? Is that a website?????” went a top rated comment on new state-funded Chinese news website Peng Pai.
The next commenter responded: “Google is the biggest search engine in the world, but it can’t be accessed in some places.”
Google’s search engine is not the only service that Chinese citizens cannot access, after the California company withdraw in 2010 over censorship issues. Last December, access to Google’s popular email software, Gmail, was shut down entirely on the Chinese Internet. Tech website 9to5Google notes that the tech giant’s other products and services are “blocked almost completely,” citing the example of Android smartphone users being unable to download apps from Google Play store in China.
Chinese citizens have long been blocked from social media services like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; they also cannot access, without the use of circumvention technologies, news from from foreign media organizations like New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters, or the newspaper you’re reading.