Facebook may be a global behemoth with 1.7 billion users, but there’s one huge market in which it has virtually no official presence: China. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has made no secret of his desire to enter the country, but so far his desire remains unrequited.
Now, the Facebook CEO appears to be planning to offer the Chinese government a gift, in the hope of winning its affections. According to the The New York Times, his team has developed a tool that will allow the state to censor content. But doing so will open a Pandora’s box that may be difficult to close.
Facebook already routinely censors content when asked to do so by governments, as does Twitter. But in most cases, this involves removing posts after the fact because they contravene a country’s laws. What it has apparently built for China would be prior restraint—censoring a post before it appears.
Zuckerberg has reportedly said it is better to be “enabling conversation” even if some of the conversation is censored, and it’s not surprising he would feel that way. His goal is to turn Facebook into a global town square. But what happens when some of the townsfolk suddenly disappear in the middle of the night, and you were the one who gave away their location?
Knowing that this kind of tool exists will also make it more difficult to stop other countries from asking to use it. What will Zuckerberg say if Russia or Turkey wants the same power of prior restraint? What does the global town square look like then?
The Data Sheet team wishes our U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving. The weekday edition returns Monday, Nov. 28.
BITS AND BYTES
Former Hewlett-Packard siblings face uncertain financial futures. Both companies reported their latest quarters Tuesday evening. HP Inc. surprised investors with modest growth in personal computer sales, but revenue for its printing business slipped by 8%. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, on the other hand, was rocked by an unexpected slowdown for its traditional computer server and networking gear business. The CEOs of both companies acknowledge they must work harder to keep growing. (Fortune, Fortune)
Here’s what you can expect out of Amazon’s cloud confab. Amazon Web Services plans to talk up a new database service based on the popular open source PostgreSQL technology, according to sources close to the company. It also intends to make the machine learning software behind its Alexa personal assistant available to third-party software developers. (Fortune, Fortune)
Here’s one way Microsoft hopes to appease EU antitrust regulators. In a bid to see its $26 billion takeover of LinkedIn proceed unimpeded, Microsoft has reportedly suggested allowing rival social networks to hook into its Outlook email and calendar application. The European Commission has extended its review of the deal until Dec. 6. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)
Business software firm AppDynamics delays IPO. The company, which sells software for monitoring application performance, has been pretty subdued about its intentions, but last hoped to make its debut in December. The reason? Uncertainty after the U.S. presidential election. One of its primary rivals, New Relic, went public two years ago. (Wall Street Journal)
This company is pitching a new approach for measuring video ads. Moat, a data analytics firm, has come up with a way of assessing the “quality” of viewers by whether or not the audio is on when a video is playing or whether or not the content is playing on a full screen. (New York Times)
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
First Mark, now Jack. Twitter accidentally suspended co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey’s account for a short time on Tuesday night because of an “internal mistake.” It’s a better fate than the one Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg suffered about two weeks ago when a glitch briefly caused the social network to declare him—and 2 million users—dead. (Wall Street Journal, Guardian)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Twitter Warns Developers About Misusing Data, by Jeff John Roberts
AMD Execs Sold Millions of Shares Before News Boosted the Stock Price, by Aaron Pressman
Why Smart Home Tech Makes a Terrible Holiday Gift, by John Patrick Pullen/TIME
Amazon Turns Up Heat on Counterfeit Products, by Leena Rao
ONE MORE THING
This tiny island is almost entirely powered by solar technology. Ta’u, which is part of America Samoa, will get its electricity from a 1.4-megawatt farm constructed by SolarCity along with 60 batteries supplied by Tesla. (Huffington Post)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
AWS re:Invent: Amazon’s cloud conference. (Nov. 28-Dec. 2; Las Vegas)
Elevate NYC: A cloud innovation forum . (Dec. 6; New York)
Consumer Electronics Show: An annual conference and exhibition dedicate to the business of consumer technology. (Jan. 5-8, 2017; Las Vegas)
IBM Connect 2017: Redefine work with Watson. (Feb. 20-23; San Francisco)
CIO Leadership Forum (West): Strategy in the age of digital disruption. (Feb. 26-28; Phoenix)
Microsoft Envision: Drive digital transformation. (Feb. 28-March 2; Los Angeles)
Google Cloud Next: Products and perspectives for developers and customers. (March 7-10, 2017; San Francisco)
CIO Leadership Forum (East): Strategy in the age of digital disruption. (March 19-21; Hollywood, Fla.)
IBM Interconnect: Tap into advanced cloud technology. (March 19-23; Las Vegas)