Facebook Inc has quietly developed a censorship tool that could persuade China to allow the world’s biggest social media network to re-enter the world’s second largest economy after a seven-year ban, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. Facebook developed the software, which suppresses posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographies, with the support of Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, the newspaper said, citing unnamed current and former employees.
This tool, according to the Times sources, isn’t currently in use, and might never get used. But as the Times illustrates, it’s fairly important to know if Facebook is willing to censor users’ content, as the Chinese government demands. The Times sources also say that Zuckerberg supported and defended the tool.
Since 2009, the only way to access Facebook in China has been via a virtual private network – software designed to “spoof” your real location and avoid local internet restrictions.Facebook, which has 1.8 billion active users, is aggressively looking to expand in parts of the world beyond its existing markets.