Thursday, 24 November 2016

Facebook could pay heavy price if it censors news to please China

Facebook's latest signal that it's willing to play ball with China? It has quietly built a censorship tool that would keep certain posts out of people's news feeds, according to The New York Times.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made no secret of his desire to get the giant social network unblocked in the world's most populous nation.
He has traveled to China repeatedly, meeting with the country's propaganda chief during a visit earlier this year and taking heat on social media for "pandering" to the government by jogging through polluted Beijing streets without a face mask. He is even studying Mandarin.
And now his company has apparently developed software that stops posts from appearing in users' news feeds in specific geographic regions, a move specifically aimed at helping the company get into China, The New York Times reported, citing current and former Facebook (FBTech30) employees.
A Facebook spokeswoman did not deny the report, saying only that the company has "not made any decision on our approach to China."
"We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country," she said.
The report comes at a sensitive time for Facebook. Zuckerberg insists he does not want to play the role of an editor, yet he recently announced plans to help prevent fake news being shared on Facebook just days after playing down the problem.
Analysts say the U.S. tech giant could have a lot to lose by compromising with China, where some other big internet platforms like Twitter (TWTRTech30) and Google (GOOGLTech30) are also blocked.

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