265.com is a Chinese web directory that was founded back in 2003 by Cai Wensheng, also known as “the godfather of Chinese webmasters.” The website was bought by Google in 2008. Since then, Google has been using it to provide news updates, advertisements, and other information. The site also has a search box but it redirects it to Baidu.com because Google is blocked in China.
While everything appears to be all nice and sweet from the outsite, Google has been using 265.com as a honeypot for a long time, as per some confidential documents seen by The Intercept.
The search giant stores the entries made by Chinese users before redirecting them to Baidu; it helps them get insights regarding what’s allowed and what’s banned in China.
Google developers use a tool named BeaconTower to check if some particular website or search term is blocked by China’s Great Firewall. The report states that compiled data has already been used to create a functioning version of the censored Google, which is codenamed DragonFly.
With the help of this endeavor, Google plans to enter the Chinese search market and comply with the law. While the plans of Google have already been making headlines for some time, any official comment hasn’t been made by Google’s leadership.