Once more there are rumors upon the land that Facebook, which has been blocked in China since late May of 2009, is trying to expand its small PRC presence, this time with an office in Shanghai. Paul Mozur of the New York Times reports on this latest rumored move (link paywalled), but he’s careful not to fan too vigorously any embers of expectation: Mark Zuckerberg’s A-for-effort Mandarin speeches at Tsinghua, his alveoli-destroying “smog jog” on Chang’an Avenue, and his conspicuous placement of a collection of Xi Jinping’s speeches during a visit to FB’s Palo Alto HQ by China’s former internet czar Lu Wei 鲁炜 have so far yielded only the permission to roll out a small and inconsequential app called Colorful Balloons.
There’s a case to be made that the good that comes from greater connectivity can justify compromise on the issue of censorship. It comes down to how much compromise, how much connectivity, and how much good. In Facebook’s case, however, all indications are that the compromise would be abject, the connectivity (in a market whose social networking needs are well served with Weibo and WeChat) quite limited, and the good — which is, after all, a function of the connectivity — barely measurable.
But they may be able to sell lots of ads.
How Baidu will win China’s AI race — and, maybe, the world’s / Wired
Learn more about AI in China from Sinica Podcast episodes with Andrew Ng of Baidu and Kai-Fu Lee of Sinovation Ventures.
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