Facebook, it seems, is anxious to enter untapped markets. One big market that has closed off access to Facebook since 2009 is China, which, with its 1.3 billion population, holds immense ad revenue potential for the company. But it turns out that Facebook might be giving in to China’s strict censorship laws to gain access into the country, the New York Times reported.
The company has developed a software to suppress posts deemed offensive by third parties (not under Facebook’s control) from showing up in people’s newsfeed. The tool is aimed at granting Facebook access to the vast Chinese market.
“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country. However, we have not made any decision on our approach to China. Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform,” a Facebook spokeswoman told the Verge.
This is not the first time that Facebook has suppressed content. It has done so in a vast number of countries, including Pakistan, Russia and Turkey. The company blocked 55,000 pieces of content globally between July-December 2015. The company will not take a proactive part in the censorship process. Instead, it will outsource the capability to third parties who will have full control over the posts appearing on people’s news feed.
Facebook has been mired in controversy lately regarding its content policies. The company was accused of letting fake news be circulated following the U.S. presidential elections 2016.
Sources told the Times that many employees working on the project have resigned after expressing misgivings about it. Facebook could approach the situation like other brands – it could offer a major stake in Facebook China to a Chinese partner. But, allowing Facebook posts originating from China to be suppressed might open up a can of worms for the company as other governments might start asking for similar suppressive measures.