China Partially Lifts Ban on Access to Facebook, Twitter, But Netizens Aren’t Exactly Excited
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | September 26, 2013 12:33 PM EST
Four years since China blocked Facebook after activists used the portal to communicate their vendetta, the country has decided to partially lift the ban but only in select areas, particularly the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ). Twitter has likewise been granted albeit only with the same limited access. However, Chinese netizens don't seem to be excited over the latest announcement in their microblogging hemisphere.
Because after all, China, through Tencent Holdings, Sina Inc and Renren Inc, has been able to develop and promulgate a social network system akin to the two U.S. companies, which by far has catered to their social requirements and tastes.
Although the Chinese desire to interact globally, "most people are not pining for an alternative to Weibo and WeChat," David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, was quoted by Reuters.
Moreover, the ban was lifted only good for a 17 square mile area of Shanghai. Whatever aspirations Facebook and Twitter have as far as cornering the audience in this part of the world remain still highly unlikely.
Unblocking Facebook and Twitter, even The New York Times at the Shanghai FTZ, set to launch on Sept 29, was primarily meant to make foreigners "feel like at home," according to the South China Morning Post.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has time and again said China's embracing his company would be the ultimate of Facebook's desire of connecting the world.
"The Chinese social media landscape is among the most developed, sophisticated landscapes out there," Sam Flemming, chief executive of China-based social media intelligence firm CIC, was quoted by Reuters. "These aren't just niche social networks, these are a major part of the Internet in China."
But to capture that market, Facebook would need to bow down to stringent limitations and Chinese censorship, something which makes experts wonder if Mr Zuckerberg is so willing to compromise with.
"Facebook would make extensive compromises it's not willing to make in other parts of the world in order to facilitate its introduction in China," Mr Kirkpatrick said.
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