Facebook Reportedly Creates Controversial Censorship Tool To Re-enter Chinese Market

Facebook has taken censorship to a new level. The company has reportedly created software that can suppress certain posts from appearing in specific geographic areas. Zuckerberg hopes that this new software will help the company gain access to China’s market of 1.4 billion people.

This is not the first time Facebook has blocked content. The company blocked roughly 55,000 pieces of content between July and December 2015 in twenty different countries. Facebook is known for employing this technique in countries such as Russia, Pakistan, and Turkey. Facebook will also block posts, even in the United States, if the post relates to a confidential criminal case.

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Facebook would not be suppressing the content themselves. It would most likely offer the software to a Chinese third-party, which would monitor popular stories and topics. The third-party would then decide what content was “appropriate”. Facebook has not offered the software to the Chinese government.

Facebook currently sells advertising in Hong Kong for some Chinese advertisers. Some of its customers include state-media sites that help the Chinese government spread propaganda. Everyday citizens who want to use Facebook, however, access it through a virtual private network or VPN.

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The software has caused its fair share of controversy. Several employees who worked on the project ended up leaving Facebook because they were uncomfortable with the project’s implications. The software would also make it easier for the Chinese government to track users with “problematic” political opinions. If Facebook works with a third-party instead of the Chinese government, it would essentially be free of the responsibility of monitoring users or working directly with the government.

In response to concern within the company over the software, Zuckerberg stated, “It’s better for Facebook to be a part of enabling conversation, even if it’s not yet the full conversation.” At this moment, Facebook's plans for China have not been finalized.

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