On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Facebook has developed a special software that would allow censorship of posts that would enable the social network to be used in China. Facebook has been blocked in China due to the nation’s strict censorship laws, but this new tool may be a way for Zuckerberg to gain access to the 1.4 billion citizens living in the Asian communist country.
According to three current and former Facebook employees that spoke to the New York Times in anonymity because the program is confidential, the software would be able to suppress posts from being shared on user’s timelines based on their geographical location. In the past, Facebook has worked with other highly censored countries such as Turkey and Russia to remove posts that the governments deem inappropriate to be seen by their citizens. However, this newly developed app would take it a step further and keep certain posts from ever being shared throughout the country in the first place.
The censorship wouldn’t come directly from Facebook, but rather they would hand the tools over to a third party that would likely be hired by the Chinese government which would control and monitor stories attempting to be shared on the network. So far, the application has yet to be used, but the anonymous employees say it is just another step in Zuckerberg’s attempt to try to gain access to the Chinese.
Last year, Zuckerberg said: “You can’t have a mission to want to connect everyone in the world and leave out the biggest country.” The Facebook tycoon has taken a stab at learning Mandarin and has met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and China’s propaganda chief, Liu Yunshan, to try and win over the communist’s country’s heart and break through the “Great Firewall” that keeps foreign websites blocked.
A Facebook spokesperson responded to a request from the New York Times by saying, “We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country.”