REPORT: Facebook Could Be Moving Into China Through Deal With Baidu

Facebook could soon be arriving in China, if rumors are to be believed. However, a report suggests that the world’s largest social network will not directly be available in the country and a new service will be created especially for that market.

A deal has apparently been signed with Baidu, China’s largest search engine, to create a new social network in the country that will not be integrated with Facebook in any way.

Facebook is blocked by the Chinese government, but with around 500 million Internet users in the country, this is an interesting way for the company to reach a massive user base which it could monetize and use to add to its valuation.

The latest rumors were sparked by Hu Yanping, the founder of the Beijing-based Data Center of the China Internet, who claimed in a microblog post that Facebook had signed a deal with a local Internet company in China. It was later reported that the company in question was Baidu, which is said to have around an 84 percent share of the search engine market.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg traveled to China at the end of 2010 and stopped by the Baidu offices while there, which led to rumors that Facebook might be introduced into a country that is expected to have 265 million social network users this year.

It is not yet clear how the new social network might be operated, if the rumors are indeed true. It could be that it is run as a subsidiary of Facebook, and may be built from scratch with input from the Chinese government so that it does not violate censorship policies.

Facebook is not the only social network which has had trouble with the Chinese authorities — Twitter is also banned in the country, while LinkedIn was blocked for 24 hours in February and has had to warn potential investors that it could be blocked again — but it appears to be edging closer to having a foothold in the nation, even though it might have to launch a brand new social network to do so.

[Image Credit flickr, pshab]

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