Facebook Unsure of China as a Market

Posted February 13th, 2012 at 11:29 pm (UTC+0)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters. (AP File Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg (马克·扎克伯格) may want to come to China, but the company’s IPO filing certainly lowers expectations.

In its recent IPO filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook says:

China is a large potential market for Facebook, but users are generally restricted from accessing Facebook from China. We do not know if we will be able to find an approach to managing content and information that will be acceptable to us and to the Chinese government. It is also possible that governments of one or more other countries may seek to censor content available on our website, restrict access, block our website, or impose other restrictions that may affect the accessibility of Facebook for an extended period of time or indefinitely.

The social networking website (社交网站) has more than 845 million registered users, including Chinese speaking populations in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. However, they have almost no penetration in the mainland Chinese market.

Recent media reports have included speculation that Facebook could never do will in China because:

China would be a tough market to crack. China’s RenRen social network and Sina, parent of Chinese microblogging service Weibo, have strong footholds there.” (USA Today)

Indeed, Chinese social networking sites such as Renren (人人) are already well established. On Baidu (百度), China’s biggest search engine, its wiki-style page Baidu Knowledge featured the popular question:

“Who can tell me what are the advantages of Facebook? Why are there people hoping that it would IPO on the Chinese mainland but why do people not wish its own brands to be made international?” (这个facebook到底优点在哪里?为什么要期待他上市中国内陆而不是将中国自己的品牌推向世界?)

This reflects the mood of many netizens, why should they use a foreign service when Sina microblog, Renren, Kaixin and others are all providing similar services?

On another popular social networking site, Douban (豆瓣), a post in January 2012 asked if Chinese mainlanders are able to go on Facebook. The replies were varied:

Sea: What is Facebook? I’ve never heard of Facebook. I hate it when people Facebook this and Facebook that.

Illusion: Who said China could be a financial center of the world? It’s laughable, information is unable to flow from both sides!

hchchc: Please this poster don’t lie. I have never heard of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or MySpace.

From all of the netizen reaction, it seems most people are resigned to the fact that Facebook will not make it to China anytime soon.

4 responses to “Facebook Unsure of China as a Market”

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China Wangre (中国网热) is a wide-ranging look at the latest digital news and trends from the world’s largest online population.

Beijing native Alice Liu follows what’s hot and how people in China are using mobile devices, traditional websites and social media to connect with each other and the rest of the world.

Fluent in Mandarin and English, Alice has written on technology issues in China for publications such as “The Guardian”, “The Huffington Post” and “Danwei.org”.

Wangre means “Net Hot” in Mandarin and was picked to convey our commitment to bring the latest developments from digital China.