Google’s announcement of a new holding company, Alphabet, delighted Wall Street this week but didn’t win over one erstwhile critic: China. The new company’s website was blocked within 12 hours of going live. Users in China visiting abc.xyz to read Alphabet chief executive and Google founder Larry Page’s blog post about the company’s plans will be greeted by an error page.
According to GreatFire.org, which monitors internet censorship in China, the domain is “100% blocked”. It is unclear however whether the blocking was a deliberate move following the announcement on Monday US-time, or if abc.xyz is being blocked because it points to already-verboten Google servers.
Since the start of this year, all remaining Google services – including Gmail, Calendar, Maps and the Google Play app store – have been blocked by the so-called Great Firewall internet filtering system. Google’s search products and YouTube have been blocked in China for a number of years.
Sundar Pichai, the new chief executive of Google, said in March that it would be “a privilege to serve Chinese users” again, but did not suggest a timeline for the company to reenter the China market.
Despite the blocking of Page’s announcement, the move was reported in the Chinese media, which also regularly covers Twitter and Facebook from a business angle, even though both social media services are completely banned in China.
Being blocked in China is not the only potential URL problem for Alphabet. It was widely reported this week that the company does not own alphabet.com or the Twitter handle @alphabet.
The domain is owned by BMW subsidiary Alphabet Fleet Management, which also owns facebook.com/alphabet. The Twitter handle is owned by Chris Andrikanich, a “dad, husband, self-proclaimed geek” from Cleveland, Ohio.
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