Will Facebook block content if it moves into China?

As talk over whether Facebook will enter into the Chinese market grows louder, a Washington lobbyist for the company said that the social networking giant could block content in some countries.

“Maybe we will block content in some countries, but not others,” Adam Conner, a Facebook lobbyist, told the Wall Street Journal. “We are occasionally held in uncomfortable positions because now we’re allowing too much, maybe, free speech in countries that haven’t experienced it before.”

How the company handles censorship will be scrutinised, especially following its reported role in the uprisings in the Middle East, most notably the example of Egypt blocking social media sites in an attempt to hinder pro-democracy organisers, MediaGuardian noted.

Facebook is currently blocked in China, but Chinese media recently reported that the company reached a deal to create a service in China, and founder Mark Zuckerberg visited China in late 2010, and was photographed with Baidu CEO Robin Li.

Should the site launch in China, it would legally be required to give user data to the Chinese authorities. Google was able to side-step this issue in the past, by not launching services within the country that required user information, Bill Bishop, a digital media entrepreneur in Beijing, explained to MediaGuardian. Facebook, obviously, would not be able to avoid user data.

But Facebook isn’t in the business of “promoting free communication;” rather, “it exists to harvest self-provided user data to sell to advertisers and, at this point, any users who attribute other motives to it are kidding themselves,” Foreign Policy commented.

Image: Foreign Policy

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