Facebook has reportedly developed a software tool that will help keep certain content away from users’ news feeds in certain geographies, reflecting the company’s apparent willingness to meet Chinese government censorship demands part of the way.
The social networking site has been banned in China since 2009 because of the government’s censorship rules and like many other U.S. technology companies would like to reenter the market with nearly 1.4 billion people.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has learned Mandarin, visited the country often and cultivated the local leadership including President Xi Jinping.
The new tool suppresses posts from appearing to people in certain geographies but will not be used directly by Facebook, reported The New York Times on Tuesday, citing three current and former Facebook employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the tool is confidential.
The software will instead enable a partner, most likely a Chinese company, to monitor popular stories and topics across the social network, and who would “have full control to decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds.”
At an internal event in July, Zuckerberg was asked about the controversial tool. “It’s better for Facebook to be a part of enabling conversation, even if it’s not yet the full conversation,” Zuckerberg said, according to the employees, the Times reported.
There is no indication that Facebook has offered the tool to the Chinese and, like other experiments by the company, the tool could be…
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