In what is surely a mere coincidence, at the same time as Facebook has been embroiled in a scandal involving the dissemination of "election tipping" stories, which prompted Zuckerberg to release a 7-point plan to eradicate "fake news" and which many conservatives believe is a preamble toward wholesale banning of so-called "fake news" websites (as arbitrarily defined by an ultra-liberal, Trump-bashing "professor") by the social networks (when ironically, Wikileaks revealed that Google was actively engaged in developing a "strategic plan" to help the Democrats win the election and track voters), we learn that in an attempt to penetrate the Chinese market, Facebook has "quietly" developed a censorship tool to appease China's politburo in hopes the social network will finally get the blessing to address the world's largest market.
According to the NYT, which first reported Facebook's strategy, the social network "has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added." Why would Zuckerberg support an effort that goes fundamentally against the premise of free speech? Why ad revenue, and profits, of course, because while it remains to be seen if organic revenue growth in the rest of the world is topping out, suddenly getting access to the Chinese market means making a compromise unlike any done previously in Facebook's history.
To be sure, Facebook has restricted content in other countries before, such as Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, in keeping with the typical practice of American internet companies that generally comply with government requests to block certain content after it is posted. According to its own data, Facebook blocked roughly 55,000 pieces of content in about 20 countries between July 2015 and December 2015, for example. But the censorship tool in China takes a step further by preventing content from appearing in feeds in China in the first place. The NYT adds that Facebook does not intend to suppress the posts itself. Instead, it would offer the software to enable a third party — in this case, most likely a partner Chinese company — to monitor popular stories and topics that bubble up as…