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April 11, 2011

Government Approved Facebook For China ?

The leading social networking site in China, renren.com, started out as a blatant Facebook clone - but it now has tens of millions of users























Despite not being able to access Facebook or Twitter, social media fans are abundant in China. So much so, that 265 million Internet users in the country are expected to use a social network this year, according to an eMarketer report.

 Facebook as the rest of the world knows it is still blocked in China, but with Baidu’s help, Mark Zuckerberg may be bringing Chinese users a government-approved version of facebook.

Forbes reports that The Web portal Sohu.com reported today, citing Baidu sources, that Facebook and the Chinese search giant have agreed to launch a Chinese social networking service that would stand alone from the worldwide service (the companies aren’t confirming this yet). The report follows up on respected China tech expert Hu Yanping’s tweet on Sina Weibo on Friday that Facebook has signed such a deal with a Chinese Internet company, and Baidu makes sense because it has so far, like Google in most other places, failed to gain traction in social media.What gives credence to these reports is that last year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg traveled to China and met with Baidu CEO Robin Li.

If  this  comes out to be the truth. Facebook will have a  lot of explaining to do both in its own soil  and to the Chinese Authorities as well  ... perhaps this will be the first time in the history of the Internet  " A Social network" will be subjected to " Government Approval and Regulations" . This  concept does not only make a mockery of the " Democratic and Liberating "  concept of the world wide web but also goes againts the basic tenant of " Social Networking " where individual groups and communities  are run by self regulation  and the  wisdom of the crowd.

 Whether individual users would be  be monitored  along with their comments and posts is perhaps too early to say.In the U.S., too, there will be questions for Zuckerberg, from some members of Congress and the Obama administration, about all the concessions he would have to make to a country that is in the midst of blackening its already lamentable record on human rights. 

According to Forbes" Facebook China will happen because Zuckerberg wants it that badly. So must Li: Baidu has failed to find the right formula for social networking in China, while Facebook clone Renren (soon to IPO) and Twitter-Facebook hybrid Sina Weibo have been hugely popular; Facebook.cn can be Baidu’s social solution.