China, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg seems to be falling prey to the mindset that Tim Clissold describes in his ‘Mr. China’, the mindset in which one is completely taken with the prospect of conquering the whole of the Chinese market.  In the case of Zuckerberg, the market consists of everyone who can be called an internet user, a category of people 420 million strong and not slowing down anytime soon.  Sure, it would be foolish not to consider the Chinese market; social media, if presented correctly, will flourish in an explosive manner.  I am not concerned by the prospect of Facebook in China.  It is Mark Zuckerberg with whom I find distaste.

I found this article while looking through a Google news feed.  It is the first time that I have read direct quotes from Zuckerberg in regard to his Facebook-China plans, but it left an immediate bad taste in my mouth.  He says that he has been spending time learning the (Chinese) language with the hope of understanding more about the culture and its people, and wonders ‘How can you connect the whole world if you leave out a billion people?”

Connect the whole world stands out as an extremely powerful statement.  Has Zuckerberg become an Evangelist?  Is he bringing digital salvation to the social-network-less heathens?  I was only able to read this passage with the sense that it was not so much a question as it was a statement and mission.  It would be wrong of him to stop his work without serving everyone.

But I shall depart momentarily from this cynical line.  Zuckerberg is, at his base, just as much a business person as everyone else.  Facebook is his business, and business is as business does.  In reality, Facebook brings this blog no small amount of traffic.  I question whether or not Facebook is really meant for China.  Beyond the great restrictions set forth by the sensors, I would not be surprised to find that the Facebook platform as it currently stands may not be compatible with with the Chinese masses.  The new version, a Chinese version, would have to be such a departure from the version that I use that I question whether or not it would really be Facebook, or just a distant likeness.  The level of compliance that Zuckerberg would have to cede to the Chinese government would be huge, to the point where he would not have very much say in the inner workings of his digital child.  I can only wonder what his deeper interests are within the Chinese market, as these are what will truly shape his attempt at conquest.

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