Having 2.3 billion monthly users, Facebook is dominantly the #1 social media network everywhere on Earth, except for where 1.4 billion people call home – China. Since 2009, all operations of Facebook in mainland China is officially prohibited. And contrary to the belief of CCP’s effort to censor its citizens’ data, which is now extremely true, the real motive at that time was a response to Facebook’s own moves.
In the United States, social media companies play a vital role in assisting the authorities dealing with terrorism issues. For example, in 2013, a bomb went off in Boston. 3 people were killed. Facebook and Twitter all immediately jumped in to help with the investigation. . They were so eager to help that they even jumped on the wrong person.
However, when it comes to China, Facebook’s way to react is distinctively opposite. In 2009, ETIM, which was formally classified as terrorism organization by both the UN and the US in 2002, organized a riot in China that killed almost 200 people. caused intense shakings in Chinese society at that time since most of the dead victims were women and children. Facebook was believed to be used by the terrorists to communicate and set up the riot. But when the Chinese government asked Facebook to help identifying the terrorists, Facebook was uncooperative and argued that the terrorists were just freedom fighters exercising free speech. This triggered anger among the Chinese authorities and people, given how active Facebook has been in terrorism fighting in Western nations. They feared that Facebook was trying to set their own “community standard” rules above their nations’ law. Along with that, the Chinese government feel the prospect of native technology companies, so they want Facebook to leave.
Sinxe then, Facebook has attempted several times to get back in, and the Chinese government always “smiled politely without budging an inch.” The company CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried multiple times in appealing to the Chinese top leaders. Mark himself tried to learn Mandarin, organized conference in Chinese universities where he spoke the language and took a notorious “smog jog” through Tiananmen Square, braving toxic air pollution for a photo op in 2016. However, it seems that all of his efforts were unsuccessful. China’s President Xi Jinping turns down Mark Zuckerberg’s request to name his unborn child at the White House dinner as part of the official state visit of Xi to the United States. The ambitious $30 million subsidiary project associated with local Chinese business in the southern city of Hangzhou get official license agreement from the government for ‘half a day.’ Just a couple hours before being forced to close by the government, Facebook was celebrating their unbelievable return. Mr. Zuckerberg made a bold claim that “[they] are interested in setting up an innovation hub in Zhejiang to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups,” and that the company “have done this in several parts of the world — France, Brazil, India, Korea — and our efforts would be focused on training and workshops that help these developers and entrepreneurs to innovate and grow.”
As China in particular and the Asian continents in general witness spectacular growth recently, especially in technology, it became a fertile market for tech giants. Facebook is experiencing decline in its users quantity, so the thirst for emerging market like China becomes more intense. All the hardships that the biggest social media company on Earth have been going through to get their foot back to China all originate to how they respond to the local issues. If Facebook continues to put its ridiculous, highly-criticized “community standard” above the law and discriminate the East from the West, the price it has to pay would be immense.
Nguyen Le Dong Hai “DoHa”