In a closed-door meeting with employees, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and co-founder Sergey Brin yesterday addressed concerns about the company succumbing to the censorship regime of China to make a return to the country. This was in response to a petition signed by more than 1,400 Googlers asking about the validity of the news.
Pichai clarified that the development of a China-specific search engine was in its early stage and it “is very unclear” if Google would get to the necessary permission from the Chinese authorities. But the executives’ efforts to clarify their opinions to the employees hit a snag when one of the attendees was found sharing live updates with the press.
One of the employees who were present at the meeting shared these updates with Kate Conger of the New York Times. Conger, in turn, posted these updates to Twitter. As soon as this was discovered, it resulted in the Alphabet boss Sergey Brin distancing himself from the main issue of the meeting. Brin said he would not continue with the meeting because of the leaks.
As per Business Insider, it was when these tweets were being broadcast on a large screen. The employee who had gotten up to ask a question turned to decry whoever was leaking this information and asked them to leave. The person was quoted saying “F–k you” and then asking the culprit to leave.
But due to this hurdle, many of the questions remained unanswered during the meeting. Later, Conger admitted in a tweet that posting live updates which led to the early conclusion of the meeting “may have been naive” on her part. Referring to a similar meeting, she said that the information would not have created an issue had it been “published an hour or two later.” But, many other others questioned her sense of journalism.
Nonetheless, we expect Google to address these issues in due to in a suitable manner. For now, Google employees and digital rights enthusiasts can feel at rest by knowing that the Chinese version of Google search, as well as a state-controlled news app, is more distant than was initially assumed.