SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 15: Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a special event announcing a new Facebook email messaging system at the St. Regis Hotel on November 15, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Facebook will launch a new messaging system aimed at enhancing it's social media product to its 500 million users. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Could Facebook be heading to China after a partnership with an Asian Internet giant?
The rumor emerged from a missive on Thomas Crampton's personal website which translated a Chinese Twitter-like message, "Facebook really is about to enter China, the agreement is signed. A domestic website will work with Facebook to create a new site. This new site is not interlinked with Facebook.com. Will this live or die in China?”
Facebook, which is banned in China, could be planning to enter the country through unusual channels -- using already-existing Chinese Internet giants Sina or Baidu. Keep in mind, however, that rumors about Facebook entering China have been circulating for the last four years.
Google, which entered the Chinese market in 2006, has experienced run-ins with the Chinese government which it routinely accuses of politically motivated attacks and censorship. Facebook, even partnered with a Chinese tech company, would still be subjected to the same censorship and surveillance.
In fact, the revolutionary fervor of the recent past, and memories of "Facebook" signs in Egypt are probably still clear in the minds of Chinese officials. I don't think Facebook has a chance of getting into China right now -- or if so, as only a pale and muted imitation.