Home Social Justice Featured Blog: Facebook sends friend request to China

Featured Blog: Facebook sends friend request to China

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This past week marked a new year in the Chinese calendar, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook creator and CEO, wished all a Happy New Years in Mandarin over Facebook. This is yet another year of Facebook attempting to up shop in China, which currently has censorship laws blocking the site.

Zuckerberg is fluent in Mandarin and on the board of a university in China. Business Insider reported that Mark Zuckerberg is learning Mandarin because it helps him understand culture, which he views a big part of international business. His wife is also Chinese, and his daughter was given a Chinese name, Maxima. This comes at a time when Facebook is banned in China. This ban stands in the way of Zuckerberg’s mission to “connect the world.”

For China, Facebook is seen as a political threat to the government. China censors other websites as well, like Google, Wikipedia, the Wall Street Journal, Linkedin and Redtube. International Business Times reported that a Chinese official “accused the websites of spreading rumours and bias against China.”

This is ironic, considering that just last year, the President of China, Xi Jinping, visited the United States and created a Facebook page to log the visit. The irony here is that no one in China was allowed to see the page; it was written only in English and only accessible to those with Facebook. On this visit, the President of China even met with Mark Zuckerberg. It is reported that they spoke in Mandarin and that the President was delighted to hear his mother tongue from the Facebook CEO. But even so, Facebook remains banned.

However, Facebook has since been able to maneuver to allow users from China to access the site. Facebook engineers have produced an app that evade the censorship. They base the app on a system called “Tor.” After analyzing the app and the system, CNN reported, “Tor is a system that encrypts and bounces Internet signals around the globe.” The app is called Orbot, and it allows users to evade the government censors. Although this app is innovative, it cannot always get past the “the Great Firewall of China.”

There are other ways that Facebook has sought to open its user base. They fund an NGO named the “Free Internet Project.” This is a company that documents all the censorship laws across the globe. China is rated in their project as ‘red,” the worst category possible. Red signals “Internet censorship or lack of Internet freedoms.”

This year marks the Chinese “Year of the Monkey.” During the year of a person’s Chinese zodiac sign, he or she will be marked as unlucky. Luckily for Mark Zuckerberg, this is not the year of his zodiac sign. As technology advances, there are signs that Facebook will make its way to China with or without the government’s permission. This is a story that will continue to be at the forefront of news on international media. Cyber censoring has become a policy initiative across the globe.

Junior Annie Chester and sophomore Annalycia Liston-Beck also contribute to this featured blog, “Critical International Media Perspectives.”

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