Is The US Next: Facebook "Quietly" Develops Censorship Tool In Chinese Market Push

Tyler Durden's picture

In what is surely a mere coincidence, at the same time as Facebook has been embroiled in a scandal involving the dissemination of "election tipping" stories, which prompted Zuckerberg to release a 7-point plan to eradicate "fake news" and which many conservatives believe is a preamble toward wholesale banning of so-called "fake news" websites (as arbitrarily defined by an ultra-liberal,  Trump-bashing "professor") by the social networks (when ironically, Wikileaks revealed that Google was actively engaged in developing a "strategic plan" to help the Democrats win the election and track voters), we learn that in an attempt to penetrate the Chinese market, Facebook has "quietly" developed a censorship tool to appease China's politburo in hopes the social network will finally get the blessing to address the world's largest market.

According to the NYT, which first reported Facebook's strategy, the social network "has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added."

Why would Zuckerberg support an effort that goes fundamentally against the premise of free speech? Why ad revenue, and profits, of course, because while it remains to be seen if organic revenue growth in the rest of the world is topping out, suddenly getting access to the Chinese market means making a compromise unlike any done previously in Facebook's history.

To be sure, Facebook has restricted content in other countries before, such as Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, in keeping with the typical practice of American internet companies that generally comply with government requests to block certain content after it is posted. According to its own data, Facebook blocked roughly 55,000 pieces of content in about 20 countries between July 2015 and December 2015, for example. But the censorship tool in China takes a step further by preventing content from appearing in feeds in China in the first place.

The NYT adds that Facebook does not intend to suppress the posts itself. Instead, it would offer the software to enable a third party — in this case, most likely a partner Chinese company — to monitor popular stories and topics that bubble up as users share them across the social network, the people said. Facebook’s partner would then have full control to decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds. In effect, Facebook is willing to admit its sold out its integrity to a third-party Chinese vendor and arbiter, simply to boost revenue, and its stock price (we are confident FB's stock price will rise on the news that the company may be close to penetrating the Chinese market, no matter the cost).

Of course, there is the possibility that once the story becomes public that Facebook is now officially in the censorship game, that it may shelve plans: after all, the last thing Zuckerberg needs now is to be accused not only of spreading "fake news" but of engaging in premeditated censorship due to ideology or bias. The Facebook employees the NYT spoke with cautioned that the software is one of many ideas the company has discussed with respect to entering China and, like many experiments inside Facebook, it may never see the light of day. The feature, whose code is visible to engineers inside the company, has so far gone unused, and there is no indication that Facebook has offered it to the authorities in China. Although, it is hard to imagine why Facebook would spend millions developing such a project if it had no intention of using it.

Worse, the project illustrates the extent to which Facebook may be willing to compromise one of its core mission statements, “to make the world more open and connected,” to gain access to a market of 1.4 billion Chinese people. Even as Facebook faces pressure to continue growing — Mr. Zuckerberg has often asked where the company’s next billion users will come from — China has been cordoned off to the social network since 2009 because of the government’s strict rules around censorship of user content.

But what may be the most interesting part of this story, is that Facebook's creeping censorship may have led to an internal "whistleblower" with a conscience: a Facebook "Snowden: if you will:

Several employees who were working on the project have left Facebook after expressing misgivings about it, according to the current and former employees.

An official statement from the company was non-committal: a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement, “We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country.” She added that the company had made no decisions on its approach into China."

Censorship notwithstanding, Zuckerberg may have trouble breaching the Chinese market even purely on its "redacted" merits: coming at a time when Trump is actively preparing for trade war with China, the last thing Xi Jinping will want to do is make a political concession that grants Facebook market share in China at the expense of protected domestic companies.

Indeed, as NYT adds, the current climate for internet companies in China may not help Facebook. In August, the ride-hailing giant Uber gave up an expensive battle to crack the Chinese market, selling its Chinese business to an incumbent rival, Didi Chuxing. More broadly, China has streamlined and tightened its controls over the internet under President Xi, targeting influential social media celebrities and adding new reviews to popular online video sites.

However, China may allow Facebook to enter, on one condition: that it is used to root out political dissidents, making the social network into a "snitch":

Some officials responsible for China’s tech policy have been willing to entertain the idea of Facebook’s operating in the country. It would legitimize China’s strict style of internet governance, and if done according to official standards, would enable easy tracking of political opinions deemed problematic. Even so, resistance remains at the top levels of Chinese leadership.

Ultimately, what Facebook may end up doing is transforming itself into a mutant, minority version of itself where it keeps a portion of the upside, while letting a bigger partner deal with the local political headache: analysts have said Facebook’s best option is to follow a model laid out by other internet companies and cooperate with a local company or investor. Finding a partner — and potentially allowing it to own a majority stake in Facebook’s China operation — would take the burden of censorship and surveillance off the Silicon Valley company. It would also let Facebook rely on a local company’s government connections and experience to deal with the difficult task of communicating with Beijing, the NYT notes.

Facebook currently sells advertising for some Chinese businesses from its Hong Kong office. Among its customers are state-media sites that act as the propaganda arm of the Chinese government, and that operate official accounts where they post articles. Chinese citizens who wish to gain access to Facebook must tunnel in using a technology known as a virtual private network, or VPN.

* * *

Going back to the censorship tool, it is unclear when it originated, but the project is said to have picked up momentum in the last year, as engineers were plucked from other parts of Facebook to work on the effort, the current and former employees said. The project was led by Vaughan Smith, a vice president for mobile, corporate and business development at Facebook, they said. Like Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Smith speaks a smattering of Mandarin.

Unveiling a new censorship tool in China could lead to more demands to suppress content from other countries. The fake-news problem, which has hit countries across the globe, has already led some governments - most notably Germany - to use the issue as an excuse to target sites of political rivals, or shut down social media sites altogether.

Curiously, for whatever reason, several Facebook employees who were working on the suppression tool left the company over the summer. Internally, so many employees asked about the project and its ambitions on an internal forum that, in July, it became a topic at one of Facebook’s weekly Friday afternoon question-and-answer sessions.

Mr. Zuckerberg was at the event and answered a question from the audience about the tool. He told the gathering that Facebook’s China plans were nascent. But he also struck a pragmatic tone about the future, according to employees who attended the session.

“It’s better for Facebook to be a part of enabling conversation, even if it’s not yet the full conversation,” Mr. Zuckerberg said, according to employees.

And if Facebook is willing to go the full distance and compromise its core mission statement in China just to pick a few basis points of growth, how long until the social network will do the same in the US, where a witch-hunt against "fake news" unlike any other, has exploded in recent days and which effectively grants Facebook the ability to censor anyone it disagrees with. After all, we now know that the tool is in place - all Zuckerberg has to do is flip a switch.

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bintercorp's picture

“It’s better for Facebook to be a part of enabling censorship, even if it’s not yet the full censorship” Mr. Zuckerberg said, according to employees.

Save_America1st's picture

so what are the possible outcomes here for fraudbook, twatter, or whatever other retarded "social" sites that I don't use and don't know about as this shit continues to proliferate across the 'ol interwebs?

whoever runs and owns these sites obviously doesn't give a fuck about Western freedom of speech as we know it and they ban regular people with regular ideas while allowing all kinds of violent shit.

They don't produce or sell anything.  These sites don't even make a profit given their huge market caps.

Gee, it's kinda like the media...it's almost like they're being subsized by someone or some people who seemingly might have unlimited amounts of secret money that the public doesn't realize or know about that keeps these "programming" systems operating outside of typical fundamental market forces, don't it? ;-)

They obviously don't care about banning anyone who doesn't agree w/ their psycho political agendas and ideologies, so they obviously don't care about attracting new users who don't agree with their bullshit.  So they also obviously don't care universal participation either which obviously should seem to affect their bottom line as any kind of "for profit" publicly traded company on the stock market.  These sites or applications are only there to bring in all the indoctrinated who go to it like moths to a flame. 

They're attacking people now at such a younger level now even younger than elementary school grades.  They don't care about banning anyone between 15 and 100 who doesn't agree w/ their bullshit.  They will ban them and continue building their massive eco-chambers online to further influencing people everywhere.  It's a gigantic propaganda machine that they run against us.

Yet they get away w/ these kinds of tyrannical business practices?  Is that legal anywhere???  I don't think it fucking is.  Yet somehow, youtube, google, twatter, and who knows however many other public "corporations" get away with all that censorship and hypocrisy.

We could all boycot and ban those sites...but for some reason I just don't think it would affect their operations and programming at all.  It just might turn into a "too big to fail" operation that the gov-scum would have to intervene on to keep it operational...kinda like the bankster system.

My guess is that this kinda shit is going to continue to be indoctrinated into the world culture until the upcoming generations of sheeple will be 100% immersed in it and will be told by the gov-scum that being part of this shit is mandatory and taxed like obamacare, and if we don't join up we also won't be able to go to college, buy anything w/ any kind of credit or whatever other ways, or get any kind of job at all.

 

 

Sam Clemons's picture

From a friend: America has made the secret gardens <echo chambers> a working model.
Google wants in and no longer lets you leave their site with ease, in a similar manner that facebook keeps you in the garden.
Fake news will beat real news, and the gatekeepers are trembling.
They had prepared to keep people out, what do they do when no one wants in??

 

There are going to be two internets.  One with official, sanctioned sites and info, and an underground internet with alternative media, health, and other info.

TruxtonSpangler's picture

If you use FB, you already lost.

Ignatius's picture

I'm thinking of starting a company in China, but I need some help selecting a name:

<--- Total Freedom Now

<--- Enslaving The Masses For Fun And Profit

SafelyGraze's picture

"Zuckerberg has often asked where the company’s next billion users will come from"

robots

because there are billions of robots

also: embedded processors. each one with a fb account.

sharing. chatting. friending. catching up. making recommendations.

ps -- tomorrow is football day!!!

Nexus789's picture

I don't believe fumblebooks existing figures. 

beemasters's picture

China seems to have its own FB version of social media app which is said to be more superior that FB has adopted (stolen) some of its features and made them its own.

Lore's picture

Re: "If you use FB, you're already lost."

Exactly.  It's no accident that account holders are called "fish." 

auricle's picture

is the US next? You've got to be kidding. Facebooks censorship was on full display this last election. The problem is, the generation one model didn't work and the desired outcome was not achieved. They will surely have it fixed by the next presidential selection and that's why the generation two model will be perfected in a more welcoming country.

 

Lorca&#039;s Novena's picture

Maybe that whole "Mark of the Beast" thing is about getting a Facefuck chip implanted?

 

 

SubjectivObject's picture

Mark zukerberg the Beast.

Hiding in plain sight.

Wild Theories's picture

Are we sure FB is really trying to get into the Chinese market? and not using China as an excuse to really develop it for the US?

last I heard they had given up trying to enter China years ago

ISEEIT's picture

I can see it being worked out.

All zuckerberg needs to do is agree to play ball.

The commie chinks will go for it because they get all that additional info on their slaves.

chairman mao's picture

They already got all the info, facebook is good for business, it connects the chinese to the outside world.

PT's picture

Why is there only one Facebook?

Where are all the alternatives to Facebook?

What about, for example, emailing a friend who emails their friends?  You can even send emails to multiple friends if you wish.
What is Facebook?  A platform for holding / sharing text, pics and video.  This is all old technology.  Is it really that hard?

Computers are cheap.  Memory is cheap.  UPSs are cheap.
Why do we need to rely on Facebook?
Errr, correction, why do THEY need Facebook?

BabaLooey's picture

Ergo.....

FUCK

FACEBOOK

ANY use of it is FUCKING STUPID.

 

SloMoe's picture
Meanwhile, at the clown shop next door:


Jack Dorsey’s Twitter Account Suspended From His Own Platform

http://ibankcoin.com/flyblog/2016/11/22/magic-jack-dorseys-twitter-accou...

Dakota Kid's picture

Zuckerberg is a certified prick.

AlbertthePudding's picture

Facebook is a business - it is not an independent media outlet.

Shed Boy's picture

This is a non-issue. I have no problem posting to my facebook page from here. All is required is a VPN. Many are free. Interestingly enough, if China was worried about it's people tuning into crazy news.....ZH would be blocked. Which it is not, no VPN needed. *posted to ZH from Harbin, China.

HenryKissingerChurchill's picture

you will be raided first, because you are on the "RAID FIRST"list,

youknow`?

Duc888's picture

 

 

FB replacement.

 

No censorship.  No selling of personal info.  Privacy.

https://seen.life/

 

This is the anti-Zuck social media

BarkingCat's picture

Going with some middle-aged beta douche is not a very good strategy to get the younger generation.

Are they aiming for the  veterans of the typewriter epoch???

BarkingCat's picture

Do...Not...Use...FecesBook

Joyo Bliss's picture

From what I have gathered, FB users in China will post something, it goes to the censors/moderators, who then decide if it's ok to actually post.

The first blocked post will lead to a "why bother" attitude from Chinese users, resulting in a rapid descent into the maelstrom of irrelevance.

cherry picker's picture

Old Zuck forgets that Facebook is not necessary to living.

You can't eat face book, can't drive it, it doesn't pay its users for using it, advertisers have survived without it, it is not a precious metal or even an unprecious one, it is not a religion and it isn't God.  Did I miss anything?

If this economy goes to zilch, which I am expecting one of these days, the poor FaceBook share holders will feel the pain, after all FaceBook is not too big to fail as people can always do without it.  Reality is a bitch, isn't it?

DeusHedge's picture

this would be one of those instances where the "crowd" is wrong, and zero hedge is right.

DeusHedge's picture

zuck is a sanist totalitarian.

onmail1's picture

Stop using Facebook

Now

Worthless wastage of time

and what for ?

Facebook == HomObamma's Stasi Machine

jesus_loves_you's picture

Zuckerfuckerberg. He needs some Abu Ghraib treatment

Ed Jobb's picture

Youtube does it too, a lot of vids downunder say "not availiable in your area."

& fuck Zuckerberg.

alpha-protagonist's picture

Not exactly related, but today when I was having the car detailed -- there's a waiting area outside with chairs -- I was seated behind a couple people glued to their phones and funny enough...they both eventually got up and moved to a different chair. All I could figure is that they thought I was looking over their shoulder watching their texts. Now my eyes are bad and I can't see texting from 1' away, much less 6', and I couldn't give a rats ass what their personal business is, but I thought it was comical that they may have moved in the name of privacy. They can hide from me, but not the NSA. Idjuts.

LA_Goldbug's picture

Shows how aware they are.

That is funny !!!!

3LockBox's picture

Die fakebook and take that thieving talentless fraudster Zuckerfag to the grave with you.

GoldenDonuts's picture

Mark Zuckerburg is going to give narcisists with aspergers a bad name.

LOL123's picture

China has let alphabet.inc / google in already. Eric Schmidt works for the dems ( hillary fan) and advisor to Obama adm. On tech issues. Face book is trying to break in to get the lowdown on the Chinese government. Proof? Dustin M. Already said he paid $20 mill to get hillary elected and that " it would influence elections". China is a sitting duck for the zionist infested web of google and facebook very shadow intel.... Go for it China ... Saves USA travel money and spooks. Lol

LA_Goldbug's picture

They are taking their cue from GOOGLE.

hedgiex's picture

No worries they have lived with censorship for thousands of years. If you get excited about fake news in China, they wonder whether you are from another planet. Uou should now know why the regime is so parnoid and brutal over the smalllest signs of dissent, this comes from the deep distrusts that they understand. I grow up in such places. 

gespiri's picture

The Chinese should ban this company (who is also acting as an extended arm of the CIA/NSA) from doing business there.

sessinpo's picture

I believe they are already banned which is why zuckerberg is developing this censor thingy to  appease china and get unbanned.

wains's picture

He could just break ties with the NSA/cia, then, no need for censorship magic button. Wait, what.......

HenryKissingerChurchill's picture

He could just break ties with the NSA/cia, then, no need for ... wait, what.......

Sugarhill has accidentally suicided himself in his mansion...

after shooting himself twice in the back of the head with his left hand,

then nailgunning his heart and face 10 times each with a nailgun,

then stabing himself in the solar plexus, and jumped from the balcony,

and it seems he also accidentally crashed his head and his neck with a barbell in the gym...

The police has closed the case, CCTV videos are securely held,

and his body has been burned and then sunk in a secret location in the middle of the ocean like that bad transformer villain.

rahrog's picture

The NWO must have censorship and other forms of media control/propaganda in order to implement their global corporate government. Suckerberg is one of their bitch boys.

 

One of many problems with their strategy is that Facebook only works on stupid people.

 

Stupid people lose.

 

wisebastard's picture

I have been kicked off FB so many damn times its not funny, and its all because i call out all the BS on the MSM and then get attacked by theired hired counter intel trolls that i can eaily make look bad........its sad that the system hires trolls to discredit people by calling them names......

----_-'s picture
----_- (not verified) Nov 23, 2016 6:34 AM

typical jew cockroach.

its clear like clean water: you either get rid of all kikes or the kikes get rid of you

 

coexistence stinky yids has never worked out through history. thats why kikes off all kind are always kicked out of any place the visit.

i say kicking out is not enough because its not working. many people have so many "questions", i have only one answer

HenryKissingerChurchill's picture

If you see the holly- wood movie

At the start he is obsesed to somehow find a way to get into the elite...

and as you all now see, HE DID IT!

(or at least he developed a tool that the elites need, and he is still holding to that tool)

HenryKissingerChurchill's picture

 

According to the NYT, which first reported Facebook's strategy, the social network "has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential.

Germany has that already mandatory on everything: google, youtube, facebook, twatter...

e.g. check Ursula Haverbeck youtube channel from within German "borders" and see for yourself

south40_dreams's picture

Facebook is dead to me. I self banned earlier this year

Last of the Middle Class's picture

FACEBOOK, by definition IS a censorship tool!!! Damn, figure it out!  Duh