As the founder of facebook, world’s leading social network, Mark Zuckerberg can’t say his trip in China has no special meaning. Although facebook has over 500 million active users who login facebook everyday, but it is currently isolated from 400 million Chinese Internet users by the great firewall, making its entry strategy harder than ever.
Mr. Zuckerberg couldn’t just ignore these huge amount of potential users, however there are enough lessons he should learn from many foreign IT companies’ failure of developing localized products and services.
Zuckerberg’s first visit is Baidu’s headquarter. Unlike Google, Baidu is open for deep cooperation with Chinese bureaucracy and self-censorship, which helps Baidu to achieve the search engine market leader in China. It will be unsurprised that if facebook is about to enter Chinese market, it needs to find the way to get Chinese government's access. Moreover, a domain name of ‘www.facebook.cn’ will probably be activated like ‘Google.cn’ with all servers and user data being kept in China for censorship.
On the bright side, facebook is not unfamiliar with Internet censorship. It already has a censorship team built up. But it is still too far away to meet up the new condition. Take Sina Weibo, the biggest mircoblog service in China, as example. Sina Weibo has a very large censorship team (specific number is unknown, but it is really big, otherwise they can’t deal with mass traffic), 24 hours & 7 days online. An more extreme case is renren.com, a copycat of facebook with a former name Xiaonei, which is notorious for censorship and block user account. On December 10, 2010, renren.com block all search and input of the Chinese family name ‘Liu’, in order to prevent any information about 2010 Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo and the ceremony.
For facebook, censorship is definitely the most difficult task, but still can’t grantee that facebook will defeat its Chinese competitors such as renren.com, Qzone. facebook still gets a long way to go.