Bug displays Google corporate site in Chinese

Google says it's fixing a bug--not a hack--that resulted in displaying its English-language corporate site in Chinese and other languages.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
2 min read

Updated 9:13 a.m. PDT with Google comment saying the issue was the result of a bug. In an earlier version, the cause of the sites appearing in Chinese was still unknown.

Google's English-language corporate site was appearing in Chinese, Danish and other languages on Wednesday due to a bug, Google said.

"This is not a hack but rather a bug affecting the language displayed to some users, and we are working to fix it soon," a Google U.S. spokesman said in a statement to CNET.

This page was translated into Chinese for some visitors to Google's corporate site. Screenshot of Google site by CNET

The Guardian, based in the U.K., reported early on Wednesday that a search for "Google executives" on the main Google search site displayed an English-language link saying "Corporate Information--Google Management" but then took visitors to a page with the information in Chinese.

The main corporate site also was in Chinese, and in addition was "further directing users from there to the new non-censored Chinese version of Google."

"The redirection occurs only in some areas, but the failure could be reproduced after the cookies were deleted and when the private browsing mode was turned on," the newspaper reported.

Users reported seeing the pages in other languages, as well, according to Google. Although for some users, the pages were showing as usual in English.

The timing of the bug was a bit uncanny given that the search giant moved its Chinese search operations to Hong Kong on Monday, shutting down its Google.cn site and redirecting users to Google.hk, where it displays uncensored results.

The move came after Google announced in January that it was hit by a targeted cyberattack seemingly coming from China and that separately Gmail accounts of human rights activists were targeted. At least 30 U.S. companies were believed to have been targeted in attacks, although details about them are scarce. China has denied any involvement.