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Facebook still a closed book in China

Wednesday, February 08, 2012 - 02:03

Feb. 8 - Mark Zuckerberg wants to ''friend'' China's massive market but how far is he prepared to go, and against what competition? Jane Lanhee Lee reports.

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg likes China. Now he also needs China's half a billion internet users to "like" him. But friending China won't be easy -- especially after Facebook's key role in the Arab Spring movement. Facebook has been blocked out of China for nearly three years. But it will be back, says author of The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUTHOR OF THE FACEBOOK EFFECT, DAVID KIRKPATRICK, SAYING: "Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be the communications infrastructure for the internet. The largest single number of internet users today are in China. Therefore, It's impossible for him to achieve his goals without succeeding in China. He will make whatever compromises are necessary to achieve that." Facebook has made compromises. It deleted the account of one of China's best known political bloggers, Michael Anti, about a year ago. The reason: Michael, who managed to climb over the great firewall of China to access his page, wasn't writing under his real name, Zhao Jing. (SOUNDBITE) (English) POLITICAL BLOGGER, MICHAEL ANTI, SAYING: "I didn't regard Facebook as a freedom of speech tool. I regard it as a platform to connect more than one thousand of friends internationally." Despite the slap in the face from Facebook, the global pull of the social network site is a huge plus for the freedom of press advocate. (SOUNDBITE) (English) POLITICAL BLOGGER, MICHAEL ANTI, SAYING: "But if entering Chinese means self-censorship, you know, a different Facebook. It's not the Facebook we used to see in the international way, I'm against that. Because why I was using the Facebook, I want to connect to my international friends. I'm not only wanting to use Facebook to connect to the domestic friend as Renren can offer the service." Facebook's got major competition in China with copycats Renren and Kaixin, and the Twitter-like Weibo, the most popular social networking tools around. So clicking on the Facebook "Add Friend" button for China is a move fraught with bugs in the World Wide Web. Jane Lanhee Lee, Reuters

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Facebook still a closed book in China

Wednesday, February 08, 2012 - 02:03