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Facebook quietly develops Censorship Tool to re-enter World’s Second Largest Economy China after 7-Year Ban

Facebook developed the software, which suppresses posts from appearing in people's news feeds in specific geographies

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FILE - Zuckerberg Pushes Internet Connectivity In Address to World Leaders at APEC. VOA
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Nov 27, 2016: Facebook Inc has quietly developed a censorship tool that could persuade China to allow the world’s biggest social media network to re-enter the world’s second largest economy after a seven-year ban, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Facebook developed the software, which suppresses posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographies, with the support of Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, the newspaper said, citing unnamed current and former employees.

Zuckerberg in March met China’s propaganda chief Liu Yunshan who said he hoped Facebook could strengthen exchanges and improve mutual understanding with China’s internet companies, according to state news agency Xinhua.

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“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country,” Facebook spokeswoman Arielle Aryah said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

“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.”

“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country,” Facebook spokeswoman Arielle Aryah said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

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“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.”

The Cybersecurity Administration of China, the country’s internet regulator, did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment. China’s foreign ministry declined to comment.

Foreign companies in China, especially in media, face political pressure from a range of regulations. The country’s military newspaper calls the internet the most important front in an ideological battle against “Western anti-China forces”.

China, which has the world’s largest population of internet users, banned the website following the Urumqi riots in July 2009 in an effort to stem the flow of information about ethnic unrest which left 140 people dead.

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Though Facebook has developed the new tool, it does not intend to suppress the posts itself, NYT said.

Facebook would instead offer the software to enable a third party to monitor popular stories and topics that gain visibility as users share them across the network, according to the Times. The third party partner would have full control to decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds.

There is no indication Facebook has offered the software to the authorities in China, the Times said. It is one of many ideas Facebook has discussed with respect to entering China and it may never see the light of day, it added.

Facebook, which has struggled in recent months to combat allegations that it unfairly removes certain content on its service, aims to continue to grow in developing nations where it currently has smaller penetration rates. (VOA)

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Facebook might lose $23 billion

This planned change sparked fears people will spend less time on the site, leading to its share stock suddenly dropping.

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Facebook shares fell down by 4% after Mark Zuckerberg announced a change in News Feed feature.
Facebook shares fell down by 4% after Mark Zuckerberg announced a change in News Feed feature.
  • Facebook recently was on the verge of losing $23 billion after they decided to make some changes in the News Feed feature.
  • The change was announced in order to make the time spent on the social networking site more meaningful.
  • However, the change leads to a 4% fall in the share of the Facebook.

Facebook was on course to lose 17 billion pounds ($23 billion) of its value after it announced it was making changes to its News Feed feature that will allow users to see more updates from family and friends than posts from businesses, brands and media.

Facebook share fell 4 percent within hours after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes to make the social network more meaningful, The Sun reported.

This change was supposed to make Facebook more meaningful. Pixabay
This change was supposed to make Facebook more meaningful. Pixabay

This could also result in lining them up for its worst financial position in more than three months — and Zuckerberg losing $3.3 billion of his own personal net worth.

“One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent. We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us,” Zuckerberg posted on Facebook late on Thursday.

The CEO said that Facebook has got a feedback from the community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.

The change will show more posts by family and friends instead of brands and businesses, Pixabay
The change will show more posts by family and friends instead of brands and businesses, Pixabay

“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to help you have more meaningful social interactions,” he said.

“As we roll this out, you will see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people,” Zuckerberg added.

This planned change sparked fears people will spend less time on the site, leading to its share stock suddenly dropping.

Zuckerberg admitted that the new changes might not pay off at first, but believes it is important users have more meaningful social interactions, The Sun said. IANS