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Facebook working on secret censorship tool to re- enter China


Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has cultivated relationships with China’s leaders, including President Xi Jinping. Inside Facebook, the work to enter China runs far deeper.


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 as the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook enter China, a market where the social network has been blocked. Zuckerberg is said to have supported and defended the effort.


Facebook has restricted content in other countries before, such as Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, in keeping with the typical practice of US Internet companies complying with government requests to block certain content after it is posted. Facebook blocked about 55,000 items of content in 20 countries between July 2015 and December 2015, for example. But the new feature takes that a step further by preventing content from appearing in feeds in China in the first place.


Facebook employees, both current and former, caution that the software is one of many ideas the company has discussed with respect to entering China and, like many experiments inside Facebook, it may never see the light of day.


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