A censored version of Facebook is in the works

The Top 20 facebook pages in Uganda 2016

While many countries across the globe are using online channels to combat oppressive regimes and outright express their views, it turns out these views might never see the light of the day if reports about Facebook working on a news feed censoring tool over certain geographical areas prove true. Several reports indicate that the move is seen as Facebook’s bid to re-enter the the lucrative, yet restrictive Chinese market.

Facebook was banned from China following a plethora of censoring concerns by Chinese authorities, something that followed the likes of Twitter and Google they  eventually wound their mainland Chinese operations. However the Verge quotes the Times as saying that the tool is one amongst the many but cautions that it might eventually never leave Facebook labs for deployment. These revelations came former and current Facebook employees who preferred anonymity since the information is private. 

Facebook has been trying hard to re-enter the Chinese market with Zuck’s recent trip to Beijing seen as a gesture to woo Chinese Authorities on loosening the grip, and allow the social giant once again commence operations in China. It is also said that if Facebook were to deploy the censoring tool, it might delegate its administration to a third party most likely a Chinese one.

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While Facebook prides itself in giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected, this recent dig is a clear contrast of the above statement. If it can be deployed in China, then what about other autocratic states that have long sought to police what their aggrieved citizens say online? 

Just here home, the events leading to the February election introduced us to online censoring when the government shutdown social media channels citing security concerns. With the new censoring tool at hand, they need not shut down social media channels like Facebook but instead regulate what goes in and out of the social network.