Facebook creates censorship tool to convince China to allow it to do business there

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/11/23/facebook-creates-censorship-to.html

Facebook seems a nice match for a totalitarian regime…


Facebook is a private platform and can make the rules about content. nothing to see here, it’s a normal business decision

(I think this is the reasoning often used for other FB content suppression discussions)


This is true, but look forward nonetheless to the press release which uses the word “freedom” to justify this “feature”.


Censorship tools isn’t going to convince China to abandon state controlled social media platforms for foreign NSA influenced social media platforms. This will affect everyone else.


Filtering fraudulent propaganda is something he insists is both irrelevant and practically impossible, but explicitly censoring credible news comes so easily to him.

Censorship has a big budget. Truth does not.



I’m surprised it took them this long.


Much more useful than companies that convince consumers to place always-on microphones in their homes (although it’s only a matter of time before Facebook makes their own such device mandatory for use of the service, with a 360-degree Webcam thrown in).

Facebook also does its part to help authoritarians get elected in the first place.


Eh, let them. A censored FB will be a better tool than no FB. And one could use it for networking an coded messages.

But in reality it will be mostly used for cute cat photos and pics of food. Sometimes in the same pic - badum - ching!

Of course, American laws are better than Chinese laws and the same goes with values. How dare China impose Chinese laws on Facebook in order to do business in China! California uber alles!

Seriously though, imagine if it was a Chinese company and the US government was imposing requirements on it in order to do business in the United States. Would anyone here complain?

Facebook kowtowing to Chinese censorship demands shows that it values business over human rights. What hypothetical regulations would the US demand of a Chinese company that are equivalent? If we required them to submit to warrantless wiretaps or something, people here would indeed complain.


Uhm…Facebook already gives law enforcement access to your data without requiring a warrant, depending on which law enforcement and circumstances. Snowden also revealed slides that showed the NSA had access to Facebook data with Facebook’s cooperation.

Facebook also deletes posts at the request of LEOs. Ask the Black Lives Matter folks (or some Muslim groups) who had posts deleted during various protests.


Don’t forget this oldie but a goodie:

Yes, and we protest vociferously. You implied that it was hypocritical to criticize Facebook for acceding to Chinese demands because we would be supposedly be fine with the situation reversed, and I’m saying we would not be fine with it.


Money is more important than everything. The world will only really change when people realize that money doesn’t equal freedom. Until then, it’s dark ages city.

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After your protest, did anything really change? Did access not just get legitimized by Congress and expanded, for the most part?

If the situation was reversed and a Chinese company was being coerced by the US government to do things in line with US policies and laws, it would be a non-story. No one here would care. You can say “Well, our laws are right and just!” but, basically, Facebook is acceding to the demands of the Chinese government to operate in their country. They have a choice. Various tech companies have given up on the Chinese market because they didn’t want to work with Chinese laws.

Do I personally think Facebook folks are assholes to do this? Yes but that’s because it goes against my personal values (and apparently some of the team that worked on this are reported to have quit in protest of it). Am I shocked that if a company like Facebook goes to China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc., that it will allow the government to censor things or spy on its citizens? No. They effectively do that in the West, they are just more subtle about it.

America has a history of wiretapping all of our citizens on the net now too so I actually expect that our government DOES demand that any big Chinese tech company that wanted to do business here would have to give full LEO access to their data on demand, etc. and otherwise comply with all sorts of policies that Cory and others here would write multi-page screeds about. Let’s not pretend our shit doesn’t stink.

This is only a story because (1) China is a big bogeyman and an “enemy” to many people in their minds and (b) Chinese authoritarianism is an affront to the supposed (note supposed) values of the West. To me, as much as I wouldn’t want to live in the Chinese regime, it does smack of cultural imperialism and American exceptionalism. Our values are right and theirs are wrong because…we say so and have a philosophical tradition to cherry pick to back our assertions. I suspect if you polled Americans about removing pro-ISIS posts from Facebook or Twitter at the behest of law enforcement, most Americans would happily support doing so “to fight terrorism.” We already see pro-ISIS stuff yanked from those sites.

I’m happy to say my values are better than many of theirs (at least those of their current regime) but then I’m not a true cultural relativist either.

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