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Social media photos of SUV in grounds of Beijing’s Forbidden City spark outrage

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BEIJING – A Chinese woman sparked social media outrage in her country by posting photos of herself and a friend with a Mercedes-Benz on the grounds of Beijing’s Forbidden City. The reaction prompted an apology from the management of China’s 600-year-old former imperial palace.

Vehicles have been banned since 2013 to protect the cultural dignity of the vast site and its hundreds of historic buildings, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The palace was home to the Qing and Ming emperors, who ruled China for nearly five centuries.

“The Palace Museum was deeply distressed and sincerely apologizes to the public,” it said in a post Friday night on Weibo, a popular service similar to Twitter. It added that it will prevent a repetition of the incident “through strict management.”

The four photos played into public perceptions that people with connections have special privileges in China, though it was not clear if the unidentified woman was from an influential family.

The shots showed two young women in sunglasses and a black Mercedes SUV in front of the towering Gate of Supreme Harmony on a sunny winter’s day.

The woman said in another post that she and her friend had enjoyed the palace without the usual crowds on a Monday, when it is closed, the state-owned Global Times newspaper reported. The posts have been deleted, and she did not respond to a message sent to her Weibo account.

A man identified as the owner of the vehicle told the Beijing News that the woman is a friend who had been invited to an event at the palace, and that some guests had been allowed to drive into the grounds. The newspaper included audio clips of the interview in an online video post.

The issue went viral on Friday. One Weibo user said that the rich and powerful can do whatever they want in China. Some questioned why the woman had privileges not even accorded to visiting heads of state, who must get out of their vehicles and walk into the palace, the Global Times said.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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