ADOTAS – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg must have shook the right hands during his recent social goodwill tour through China. The rumor mill is on fire with reports that Facebook will start a jointly-owned social network with China search giant Baidu. Back in February, it was reported that Baidu execs were checking out Facebook’s Silicon Valley digs.
But if you were thinking you can could share all your recent Tibetan freedom march pics with your new mainland Chinese friends, think again. The proposed service would be China-only and not hooked up to the rest of the global Facebook network.
Facebook was available in mainland China for a brief period starting June 2008, but the government shut it down during ethnic rioting in Xingjiang. YouTube and Twitter are also cut off, and Google’s difficulties with the Chinese government are infamous.
But Facebook, just like Google, wants in on the mainland Internet superhighway because there are hundreds of millions of Internet users (many with swelling household budgets) to show ads to. How do you say ad revenue in Cantonese? How about Mandarin?
Interestingly, one of the companies looking to take washed-up MySpace off of News Corp.’s hands is Chinese company Tencent, which is proving to be the Facebook to Baidu’s Google. Tencent QQ registered as the largest online community in the world at the end of last year with 650 million active IM accounts. (What’s that Facebook? Half a billion users? Thbbbbpppppt!)
Right before Zuck hit Chinese shores, Tencent announced it would be launching an English-language social network in early 2011. Why start a new social network when you can get a dinged-up one for cheap?