Facebook mulls its China strategy

Rob Schmitz Feb 2, 2012

Adriene Hill: We’ve heard all morning about the money Facebook will make by going public. But where could the company grow from here? It already has 845 million users — future investors are going to want more. China is one place the social media site could look. Facebook isn’t allowed there now.

But as Marketplace’s China bureau chief Rob Schmitz reports, the company hasn’t given up.

Rob Schmitz: China has a half a billion Internet users. Without special software, none of them can access Facebook. For the company’s new shareholders, that’ll sound like a market Facebook needs to tap into. But first Facebook will have to convince China’s government to ‘Like’ it.

Jeremy Goldkorn: Chinese Internet authorities don’t like big, user-generated content sites who are not run by Chinese companies that self-censor.

Jeremy Goldkorn is editor of Danwei.com, a website devoted to Chinese media. He says in order to play in China, Facebook will have to offer a localized version there that would be censored — sort of like Twitter’s new country-specific censorship program.

Goldkorn: If you were in Thailand and you were tweeting insults to the king, which is illegal in Thailand, Twitter would have the ability to make sure that nobody in Thailand could see that Tweet. This is the type of thing that Facebook would have to do.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he’s learning Chinese and he’s come to China to scope out the landscape. The question is: is he ready to change Facebook for access to China’s market?

In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

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