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Facebook’s challenges in China, compromise free speech

Despite Facebook’s efforts to lay a strong foundation for its social network in China, the chances of flourishing in the country are still gloomy. According to New York Times reports, the social networking giant is focusing on developing systems that could sensor information to settle agreements with Chinese authorities. The times aren’t good for Facebook as it is under great pressure in its parent country because of the issue of fake news that circulated during US elections. But in China, it is being very much careful in providing information to the user’s timelines to please government. 1.3 billion People are of great interest for this network as its further progress depends a lot on this number.

Since 2012, Facebook and China’s problem hasn’t changed much when the platform accepted that it will be difficult to make a successful appearance in the market. Even if Zuckerberg accepts to China’s censorship in exchange for being unblocked, it will not be easy for it to make its place in a strong social media ecosystem in the country. Facebook cannot compete into Chinese market with its traditional strategies as these have been rejected already.

The platform such as Renren, regarded as China’s Facebook made its name in the market and attracted investments from SoftBank in its early days. The company actually claimed 160 million users before its US IPO in April 2011. But now this company is more famous for its investment deals and is not much used for other purposes.

Renren and Kaixin failed to take over the market because they lacked mobile options and gave “WeChat” the opportunity to appear as the social media giant in China. WeCHat has 846 million monthly active users and occupies that space in Chinese market which Facebook is aiming for. WEChat is not just restricted to messaging; it includes a Facebook style timeline feed from friends and consumers can link to the branded accounts as Facebook pages. It has the payment system, shopping, banking, appointments along with a new feature for developers. This feature enables developers to build their own apps for the platform.

In China, Apple and iPhone are flourishing but the global demand for Facebook is not so apparent. Chinese people are not in need for the Facebook very much. It is good for the people who want to connect with friends and family overseas but they might be suing it through a VPN. According to Facebook’s ad buying service, out of the country’s 710 million internet users the social network has an audience of around 2.1 million.

The development of the censorship tool is a hope for Zuckerberg to make a big impact in the Chinese market. But Facebook needs to move very carefully as compromising on free speech would deprive it from a lot of its supporters in the west. Even after all the efforts, the chances of growing in the Chinese market are very slim. Therefore it is good for Facebook to stick to the existing strategy of serving advertising customers in China who want to connect to the global audience. AS even working with state-run publications as Facebook does, there arises many issues related to media manipulation and fake news.

Via: Tech Crunch

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Written by Hisham Sarwar

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