Facebook Inc. appears to be trying a new way to get into China — through censorship.
The social media platform is reportedly working on a tool that would stop posts from showing up in news feeds in specific locations in China, the New York Times reported, citing sources related to the company. Facebook’s
efforts to enter the country come after the site was banned in 2009, and follows concessions other companies have made to have a presence in China.
According to the New York Times, Facebook’s tool allows a third party to see popular topics or stories, and that party decides whether those posts would show up for certain users. The tool has not been deployed yet and it is possible it may not be used, the New York Times reports.
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Facebook was originally banned in China in 2009 following riots in the Chinese city of Ürümqi. The country, which is the biggest foreign market for U.S. companies, could represent a significant expansion for the company.
Other companies have also tried to seize on the opportunity. Uber Technologies Inc. agreed to sell its Chinese operation to Chinese company Didi Chuxing in August, after spending heavily on subsidies for rides in an attempt to gain a foothold in the market.
Like Facebook, Netflix Inc.
has been plagued by regulations in China. In October, the company said it would not be attempting a full-service offering but would license its content to third-party providers. Alphabet Inc.
also ran afoul of China’s censorship restrictions and left the country in 2010 after its services were blocked.
One key outlier is Nike Inc., which has managed to succeed in China due to its premium brand and the popularity of sports in China, MarketWatch has reported.
Shares of Facebook closed down 0.50% Wednesday. In the past three months, shares have fallen 3%, compared with the S&P 500’s
gain of 1%.