Facebook is reportedly working on a censorship tool that will restrict banned news from user’s timelines in preparation to launch officially in China.
The social network, which has been banned in communist China since 2oo9, reportedly sees “the country’s 1.3 billion residents as a source of enormous potential growth” in a climate where user growth is on the decline.
According to The Verge, Facebook has previously “taken down posts in other countries around the world, including Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey. But the tool now in development would prevent the posts from ever surfacing in the News Feed at all.”
Several employees have reportedly left the company in protest of the tool’s development, however Facebook has yet to either publicly confirm or deny their expansion into China.
“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country,” said a Facebook spokesperson to The Verge. “However, we have not made any decision on our approach to China. Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform.”
China passed a new bill this month which seeks to further prohibit criticism of the communist government, as well as anonymous internet browsing.
The country was listed as the worst abuser of internet freedom in a report this year, followed by Syria and Iran.
Following the election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was criticized by leftists for not being biased enough to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency, which Clinton supporters partially blamed on the influence of “fake news.”
This prompted Facebook to team up with Google this month in an effort to combat “fake news,” while a college professor’s list of “fake” news outlets included Breitbart, alongside imitation and satire sites.