Visualizing Internet Censorship

on June 19, 2012

Google is no stranger to controversy, regularly making news headlines about privacy, piracy, and perhaps most-interestingly, government requests for content removal. Twice a year, Google publishes a 'Transparency Report,' detailing how many times governments around the world have asked Google to remove web content or for access to user data.

Here's their report in a visual format:

There are lots of interesting nuggets in here. For example, defamation and privacy/security seem to be the leading reasons for content takedown requests in the past half-year. Did you know that the US targeted Google Groups (of all services) for defamation reasons? Or that Google is most complicit with the US when it comes to user data requests?

Take a look and let us know what you find in the data.


Not the best example to show information. To start with, there is a clear disconnection between the two info graphics. If you hover over the map, you can only see that a certain country has blocked X number of content but it doesn't provide any details on the content. Perhaps you could add more details there.

A darker map, in a way gives "bad image" to censorship, which in my opinion is not for the presenter to decide.

Geo map?? I failed to understand the significance of using a geo map unless you want to emphasize on the geographical spread of this censorship. If there is a case, then you could perhaps support it by putting up some words.

The second visualisation only shows what content has been blocked, but then there is no info on country. The vertical text alignment is somewhat difficult to read.

Thanks for the thoughts, some good comments in here. I'll answer a few:
-There is a bit of a disconnect between the two tabs, but this partially stems from the fact that it is based on two different data sets that Google released that have different details, or in some cases, different information altogether.
-You can click on a country to filter the lower view. In the first tab, you can see quickly which products and for what reasons are the cause for content takedown requests (which you can hover over for exact numbers)
-A dark map was chosen to bring out the orange colors, which don't show up quite as well on a standard or grey map, though I can see your reasoning here.
-We chose a map because we are displaying geographic data. This allows you to quickly see which countries--relative to each other--ask Google to take down content based on the point's location. The geographical spread is only a small point to be made.
-You're right the vertical text is hard to read. Unfortunately this is a limitation of having set width sizes. The alternative was to have incomplete words with ellipses (e.g. Government Crit....) which is even less desirable.