Facebook Expands Market in China, Complying with Communist Party’s Censorship Laws

fbicon

 

After many failed attempts to break into the Chinese tech market, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has finally reached a deal with the Chinese government to implement his social network into the communist nation. The agreement comes with one major guideline; Facebook must comply with the rules and regulations put forth by the Communist Party of China (CPC).

China acts as one of the largest tech-savvy populations on the planet, with upwards to 500 million internet users. Zuckerberg aims to tap into this previously closed off market. So much so, the silicon valley CEO has put his team to work on a new censorship program that best aligns with CPC’s style information control.

China’s style of censorship is intriguing for two reasons.

A great deal of the Chinese population is connected to the internet, however, access to staple websites like Google, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram are strictly blocked. To mitigate the absence of such internet utilities, Chinese tech companies have cloned popular western websites. Instead of Google, the Chinese have access to Baidu. Instead of YouTube, the Chinese have access to Youku. And prior to Facebook, the Chinese had access to the social network Renren. Instead of negotiating with western based tech companies for compliance with their propaganda agenda, the Chinese government would prefer to copy and paste software, thus giving more control over their economy and overall information.

Aside from the banned websites mentioned above, the CPC deliberately censors various key words, including information relating to Falun Gong (a religious organization that operates outside of the China’s five main religions), search words relating to the pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square, and any mention of high profile Chinese politicians. Posting such information to Baidu and Renren comes at a high risk. A report from The Guardian states:

“According to a judicial interpretation issued by China’s top court and prosecutor, people will be charged with defamation if online rumours they create are visited by 5,000 internet users or reposted more than 500 times… That could lead to three years in jail.”

To exemplify the severity of China’s censorship program, look no further than the journalist and whistleblower, Shi Tao. Tao relayed information in regards to the Tiananmen Square protests through a Yahoo email account, later sent to a pro-democracy blog. Word of mouth reached the Chinese government, where they eventually put pressure on Yahoo to disclose the contents of the emails, including the information of the sender. Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his actions.

All tragedies aside, here is where the rubber meets the road:

Will Zuckerberg’s communist style Facebook act as a deadly tool for the Chinese government to seek out potential defectors and whistleblowers, or will it slowly usher in a new wave of western culture and free speech into China?

 

Comments are closed.