Facebook agrees to censorship in order to get back into China

facebook-censorship-tools-for-china

facebook-censorship-tools-for-chinaChina is a very big country. The Chinese government loves censorship. Facebook is all about freedom of expression as long as you stick to their user policy (read Facebook first removes the iconic Napalm Girl photo and then puts it back). Since people can share opinions and thoughts collectively on Facebook, the Chinese government doesn’t find Facebook acceptable. Hence, Facebook has been blocked in China. Facebook wants to get back into China. The Chinese government loves censorship (yes, already said above). So, Facebook is building tools within Facebook that will enable the Chinese government to censor posts on Facebook. If the Chinese government is happy with the censorship tools in Facebook, and can easily censor the crap out of Facebook, people will be able to use the biggest social networking website in China and we will become a big happy global family.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been working hard for many years to get Facebook back into China. He has negotiated multiple times with various Chinese leaders. He has even directly talked to President Xi Jinping. He has been trying to learn Mandarin. Heck, he has even gotten himself a Chinese wife! How much more serious can one be?

Since the tool is confidential, says this New York Times report, the employees who have revealed the secret are to remain anonymous. Once people can use Facebook in China, the Chinese government will be able to block posts based on who is posting them in the regions where they shouldn’t show up.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that campaigns for better online privacy, has termed this new development as “extremely disturbing”, and have praised the Facebook employs who have come out with the revelation (source).

Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009. Since then, only those can access Facebook who know how to access it via virtual private networks.

Facebook after all, is an enterprise. It is not a human rights organization. As a services company, or even as a software company, it has to enter markets where it can gain consumers. Being one of the biggest markets in the world, it has to cater to the local laws of China. In one of the internal Facebook meetings, Zuckerberg is reported to have said, “It’s better for Facebook to be a part of enabling conversation, even if it’s not yet the full conversation.” This makes perfect sense. Some Facebook is better than no Facebook.

But just imagine Facebook creating “censorship tools” for the American government under Donald Trump. Or, “censorship tools” for the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All hell will break loose.

About Amrit Hallan
Amrit Hallan is the founder of TechBakBak.com. He writes about technology not because "he loves to write about technology", he actually believes that it makes the world a better place. On Twitter you can follow him at @amrithallan

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