Facebook Reportedly Building Censorship Tools to Woo China

Facebook Reportedly Building Censorship Tools to Woo China. Mark Zuckerberg meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, centre, and Lu Wei, China’s top Internet regulator Facebook is reportedly developing a tool that suppresses posts from appearing in users’ news feeds in specific geographic area, as part of a strategy aimed at appealing to Chinese authorities. According to the New York Times, the tool is designed for use by third parties, such as local companies in China, but has been developed with the blessing of CEO Mark Zuckerberg in order to help the social network gain an entry to the Chinese market, where it has been blocked since 2009. Third party firms with access to the tool would gain full control over which posts appear in users’ feeds in a given area. The tool has been a widely-known project internally for some time. However, the issue of suppressing content from users has taken on a new weight recently, with Facebook accused of inadvertantly swaying the US election by allowing fake news to propagate on its networks, and forcing people into an echo chamber where diverse opinions were not easily accessible. Between July and December 2015, it removed roughly 55,000 pieces of content from feeds in around 20 countries. This addition has proved the final straw for a number of employees at Facebook, with several who were working on the suppression tool having left the company in protest, according to sources within the firm. As with a number of Facebook’s experimental projects, the tool may never see the light of day, but given the current controversy surrounding Facebook’s ability to control the news that users see, even the idea that the company is working on a way to restrict the free flow of speech and information is worrying, and speaks volumes about the company’s determination to access the Chinese market. “We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country,” said a spokesperson for Facebook in a statement, adding that the company had made no official decisions on its approach into China.

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Mark Zuckerberg meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, centre, and Lu Wei, China’s top Internet regulator

Facebook is reportedly developing a tool that suppresses posts from appearing in users’ news feeds in specific geographic area, as part of a strategy aimed at appealing to Chinese authorities.

According to the New York Times, the tool is designed for use by third parties, such as local companies in China, but has been developed with the blessing of CEO Mark Zuckerberg in order to help the social network gain an entry to the Chinese market, where it has been blocked since 2009.

Third party firms with access to the tool would gain full control over which posts appear in users’ feeds in a given area. Whether posts would still be accessible if directly linked to, or accessed via profile pages, is still unclear.

The New York Times reports that the tool has been in development for a long time, but work accelerated last year when Vaughan Smith, vice president for mobile, corporate and business development at Facebook, was placed in charge of the various teams of engineers working on different elements.

The tool has been a widely-known project internally for some time. In July, an employee asked Zuckerberg about the moral implications of the tool during one of the company’s weekly Q&A sessions, to which he reportedly replied “It’s better for…

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