In the land of the “world’s biggest online population” Facebook has “almost zero” users, Reuters reports. Of course, that’s because, since 2009, the Chinese government has blocked its citizens’ access to the U.S. social media leader. Likewise, it has blocked Twitter.
But when the ban is finally lifted in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone this weekend, crowds are not expected to rush on to either site.
Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick told Reuters, “Most Chinese people are not pining for an alternative to Weibo and WeChat.” He’s referring to China’s alternative microblogging service, which boasts 500 million users, and the country’s dominant messaging app, with 236 million. Renren, China’s version of Facebook, has 54 million users, according to Reuters, compared to Facebook’s 1.15 billion worldwide.
Kirkpatrick said he expects Chinese “who have a global point of view and need to communicate globally” to be most impacted by the new freedom. But he wonders how the U.S. companies will deal with the challenge of censorship, which continues to stifle China’s social networks. “Facebook would make extensive compromises it’s not willing to make in other parts of the world in order to facilitate its introduction in China,” he told Reuters.