A report by the New York Times suggests that Facebook is preparing to bow to censorship laws in China as part of a push to enter the country. The social media company has apparently built censorship tools that would block certain content from appearing in News feeds; a move that has caused several of its employees to quit in protest.
Facebook has no presence in China due to it being blocked by the government. It isn’t the only one, with Google also facing a similar ban. However, unlike Google, Facebook has never had a presence in the communist country; and has been banned from the very start. Google pulled out of China in 2010 due to it not agreeing with government censorship and subsequent cyberattacks on its infrastructure.
On the other hand, Facebook has been known to cooperate with governments when asked. It has traditionally removed content from circulation without question; although this was usually done after the stories were already published.
The new censorship tool would be an extension of this cooperation, and would block censored content from ever appearing on Facebook. The report indicates that Facebook is unlikely to run the censorship itself, and will likely share the tools with a third party company in China.
There is a fear that implementation of these tools in China may lead to other oppressive regimes to request it applied to their countries. Not every country in the world values free speech, and many governments routinely clamp down on news that they believe to be detrimental to their power.
It should be noted that the censorship tools are only one of the solutions that Facebook is exploring, and they may not be implemented at all. A statement from the company indicates that it is still learning more about the country and has not yet decided on an entry strategy.
[Source: The New York Times]