Facebook Enages China

Wall Street Journal published “Facebook’s Test in China: What Price Free Speech” today.  Yahoo and Google have been down this path of dealing with China.  There is a tension between encryption/anonymity and surveillance/persecution in the Chinese nation.

Facebook wants everybody to share information between themselves and build a culture.  In America, I’m uncomfortable sharing all my info.  In China, even a real name can get you thrown in jail if you say the wrong thing.  Facebook CEO is dancing a line between a product model that requires American-style freedom to say and opine, and a desire to be international where such activity gets you jailed or shot.

Cultural commentator Clay Shirkyhas provided Facebook the argument to downplay US cultural concerns of censorship and invasions of privacy.

Social media create a valuable public sphere in which societies communicate about all sorts of subjects.  U.S. officials should take a longer-term view of the issue and support the expansion of these spheres rather than fixate on thoe problems of censorship.  The resulting public discussion, he said, will do more to prompt organic change.

In essense, he says we should value spheres of community more than individual rights. I guess “it takes a community” to globalize.  Let’s hope it doesn’t require the abdication of human rights.

About Brian

Engineer. Aviator. Educator. Scientist.
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