Why did Google stop the Dragonfly project

Google: Chinese search engine Dragonfly has effectively ended

That was it with Dragonfly: Google closed a Chinese website and a data analysis system. Both were important components in the development of Google's new Chinese search engine Dragonfly. This should have been done with it.

  1. Winkelmann Group GmbH + Co. KG, Ahlen
  2. Bechtle GmbH, Hamburg

In 2008, Google bought the website 265.com, where users can find news, stock prices, horoscopes and travel advertisements, among other things. The site also has a search mask, but the search is forwarded to the Baidu search engine.

However, Google used the search mask to research user behavior, reports the US online magazine The Intercept. The keywords were saved to evaluate what Chinese Internet users are looking for. They would then have compared the results of their own search with the results from China to see which websites are blocked in China.

A censorship list for the prototype

In this way, the developers would have created a list of several thousand websites blocked in China. Based on this, the prototype of Dragonfly was created, two sources at Google told the online magazine. The listed pages did not appear in it.

Thereupon there were internal protests. Members of Google's data protection team were very angry and contacted the Google management. That then prohibited the Dragonfly developers from using the data from 265.com, said the two sources.

The Dragonfly developers have been instructed to use other sources for searches in Chinese, for example from the USA or Malaysia. However, these are very different from searches in mainland China, so the data sets that the developers have to work with are also worse.

Google is withdrawing developers from the Dragonfly team

The data from 265.com are very important for the development of Dragonfly. The fact that the data could no longer be used severely hampered progress on the Chinese search engine, said one of the sources. In addition, Google has downsized the Dragonfly team and transferred various developers to other teams. Both sources say that work on the controversial Chinese search engine is practically over.

In August it became known that Google was planning a new search engine for China that would censor search results according to the requirements of the authorities. The Dragonfly search developed for mobile devices should even link a search query to the user's phone number. In 2010, the company switched off its Chinese offering because it no longer wanted to filter search results.

Google is persistently silent about details about Dragonfly. The new China plans had already alarmed politicians. Last week, Google boss Sundar Pichai had to go to a hearing in the US parliament. The project had also triggered internal protests. Google employees recently called for the project to be terminated.