Facebook Aims For China Re-entry With New Censorship Tool

By Edge Ison , Nov 25, 2016 05:02 AM EST

After seven years, Facebook is closer to coming back to China than ever before.

Facebook has been banned from the country for seven years and it looks like Mark Zuckerberg is trying his best to get China to lift that ban.

Facebook is currently working on a censorship tool that would make the world's number one social network more palatable to China. The software is supposed to suppress posts from appearing in news feeds in certain geographies.

But according to the company, the posts will not be completely suppressed. A third party is necessary to monitor what is being posted and shared by users across Facebook. The partner company, most likely one from China, will analyze the popular topics and stories and decide which ones will show up in the feeds of Facebook users in the country.

The development of the new tool is actually one of the company's confidential activities. However, the news was leaked by some current and former employees of Facebook. According to them, the censorship tool was intended to appease China so Facebook can tap the huge market.

China is the second largest economy in the world and has a population of more than 1.3 billion. Ninety-one percent (as of 2013) of Chinese people who have access to the internet have social media accounts. QZone, the Chinese equivalent of Facebook, and Weibo, the ChineseTwitter, are two of the top social media sites in the country.

According to reports, Zuckerberg has long had interest in re-entering the Chinese market.

"We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning or about the country," said Arielle Aryah, a spokesperson of the company.

Zuckerberg have met with Liu Yunshan, China's propaganda chief, last March in an effort to improve relationship with the country. Liu indicated that Facebook could help "strengthen exchanges and improve mutual understanding with China's internet companies".

Zuckerberg, who has been learning to speak Mandarin, has also been to China a number of times to discuss things with the country's internet executives.

The move may or may not quell concerns of China gathering intel on the U.S. Early in Nov., a security company discovered that budget smartphones made in China was secretly sending data back to China.

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