Google Search has been inaccessible to most users in mainland China for several hours. Google has now confirmed that Google Search is indeed being censored by the great firewall of China. However, this is not due to any policy change by Chinese authorities. Rather, Google inadvertently blocked itself.
According to BBC, in the past 24 hours Google started adding the string “gs_rfai” to the search URL globally. Unfortunately ‘rfai’ is also an acronym for Radio Free Asia, which has been present in China’s blacklist for a long time. As a result, all Google Search queries were erroneously blocked by China’s firewall.
Google is currently working to resolve this issue and Chinese users should be able to access Google Search soon. However, the million-dollar question is, How long before the Chinese government bans Google, for real?