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Facebook has reportedly developed News Feed software to suppress messages in China

Photo-illustration.

(REUTERS/dado Ruvic )

How far is Facebook willing to go to convince China’s Communist government to lift the ban on the social network in the country? According to a new report, the company has developed software that allows third parties to target messages to certain geographical areas.

The News Feed censorship tool is specially made to help the platform make inroads into China, claiming employees at the company, who spoke with The New York Times.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that his ambition to dramatically increase Facebook’s user base. Speaking in February, the founder of the company, predicted the platform would be 5 billion members in 2030.”We want to finish connecting everyone, we do it in cooperation with governments and other companies around the world,” said Zuckerberg at the time. In its most recent quarter, Facebook claimed its users increased by 17 percent year-on-year to reach 1.75 billion.

However, the restriction on the social network in China (since 2009) has cut off a huge potential audience of more than 1 billion people. That void was filled by local platforms and the west-services that are willing to play with the Chinese government in terms of censorship, such as Weibo, and LinkedIn. On the other hand, web giants like Google and Twitter are in the same boat as Facebook, because of their refusal to see the contents of a block in the country.

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Facebook reportedly does not plan to make use of the new tool itself. Instead, it will offer it to a third party (such as a Chinese contractor) to check and delete trending stories on the platform. The software of the code visible to engineers within the company, and is already the cause of controversy — mainly due to Facebook’s fraught history about censorship.

This year alone, Facebook has faced several criticisms about the censorship of the historically relevant news and images, and about the alleged oppression of the conservative news on the trending feed by ex-members of staff. The company is also currently at odds with the media about the so-called rise of fake political news on the platform.

A number of the employees who were working on the new software reportedly have left Facebook after expressing concerns with regard to the implementation. The company has not confirmed whether the experimental feature, in fact, see the light of day.

“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time to understand and learn more about the country,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

This approach is best reflected by the CEO of the company, who has made multiple trips to China (most recently in March), shows off his Mandarin skills along the way. In June, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg made a similar statement of the company board of investors. China also makes use of Facebook’s ad network to display promotional content to users outside of its borders.

It should be noted that Facebook has already limited the content on a global scale to the task of national governments, as described in the data requests report. Facebook claims these requests are linked to the material that is in conflict with the law in a specific country. It says the following with regard to these types of removals: “If we receive such a request, is examined to determine whether the specified content is indeed in violation with all applicable local laws. If we determine that it is not, then we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory.”

Until now, it seemed on Facebook decade-long connectivity strategy would be the main route to the reach to conquer the world ambition . With the help of solar energy drones, satellites, and local Wi-fi and mobile internet projects, the company is planning to connect rural areas in emerging countries. These plans have taken a hit of late, thanks to hardware mishaps and accidents. In September, Facebook lost its Amos-6 satellite by an explosion destroyed the rocket of SpaceX, that was the implementation. And just this week, the U.S. agency for the safety of the NTSB revealed it is investigating an incident in which there is a “structural” problems, ago by Facebook, the internet-where Aquila drone during its first test flight.

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