Facebook readies censorship tool as way back into China
FACEBOOK has built a tool for geographically censoring posts at the leading social network as it seeks a path back into China, The New York Times reported recently.
The newspaper cited three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity, as saying that the tool could filter news feeds at the social network in specific places.
“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement emailed in response to an AFP inquiry.
“However, we have not made any decision on our approach to China.”
Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has supported the effort to build the tool for censoring posts, according to The New York Times story.
Zuckerberg has spent years studying Mandarin, and has met with Chinese leaders and visited that country.
The social network has been banned in China since 2009, evidently due to the interest by authorities there to control information shared or movements organised using the internet.
Facebook restricted content in a score of countries in the second half of last year, according to the most recent transparency report released by the California-based company.
US internet companies have a practice of complying with legitimate government requests to block posted information in keeping with local laws, subject to evaluation.
The transparency report said that access to items in Pakistan was restricted due to allegations that local blasphemy laws were violated.
In France, Facebook restricted content reported under laws prohibiting denying the Holocaust or condoning terrorism, transparency report said.
Posts of an image related to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in the Paris were removed on the grounds they violated French laws related to the protection of human dignity, according to the transparency report.
The software tool created quietly with China in mind would prevent posts from happening instead of waiting to follow up on government complaints to have them removed, The New York Times story said.
Rather than censoring posts itself, the idea would be to give the tool to a third party, perhaps a partner in China, to use to decide what shows up in news feeds at the social network, according to The New York Times.
The sources cited by the newspaper cautioned that the censorship software was among many ideas being mulled as Facebook seeks a way back into China and may never be deployed. – AFP-Relaxnews