How Facebook’s Tiny China Sales Floor Helps Generate Big Ad Money

In the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Facebook, working with a local partner, has found a way to overcome China’s internet blocks to make ad dollars.

Comments: 29

  1. If I understand this correctly, Chinese companies can advertise to sell their wares and services to the globe, but ordinary Chinese consumers may not express themselves on the platform. Given their unregulated, customary business model, one can assume that FB will be giving away all types of user data to Chinese vendors. I don't see any privacy protection discussion here, which means it's OK with the Chinese govt. to gather users' info. from around the globe, but their citizens will not be creating any user data for FB to harvest and peddle to countries outside of China. It's a very clever way to collaborate with the Chinese, but how does this benefit the western democracies? I perceive this is yet the tip of the iceberg on another way unregulated technology is running amok, as it is used here to financially benefit FB shareholders and a nefarious autocratic dictatorship in a one-way, personal information-gathering scheme with no privacy protections or enforcement ability, while further eroding Western democratic principles with transparency and accountability. I'd like to know what our military cyber command or Homeland Security experts have to say about this modus operandi. FB has yet to make any reparations or to fully be held accountable for selling America out to the Russians in the 2016 Presidential election. And let's all remember, what has happened to all the data that got into the hands of Cambridge Analytica that Mark Zuckerberg claims was stolen?

  2. @EJ Too whimsical about the past election.

  3. From the monetary perspective, Chinese advertisement money helps the FB bottom line. It reduces the trade imbalance between two countries. My sister, who might have seen the ad in FB, toured China recently and brought back a Huawei cell phone which works pretty good in the T-Mobil network. She said it is less expensive but equally good or better than iPhone. After all, the advertisement worked.

  4. @Usok Perhaps, but what does your sister know about the technology Homeland Security found in Huawei's gear that monitors and tracks all of her usage activity? Is she aware that the US and several of our allies such as Canada, Australia and the UK have banned Huawei from selling any of their phones or other telecom network gear in their countries?

  5. But AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, et. al. don’t track me via my Apple iPhone?

  6. @Bob Jordan Doubtful, as the data storage costs would be prohibitive. The NSA takes care of this for American telecom companies.

  7. According to the June 5, 2018 New York Times article "Facebook Gave Data Access to Chinese Firm Flagged by U.S. Intelligence", Facebook has worked with China "on a tool that allowed targeted censorship, prompting some employees to quit over the project." Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook gets 10% of its revenue from China. Far more investigative work needs to be done to ferret out just what Facebook is giving away to China.

  8. Facebook is all about making money and it will cooperate with literally anybody, including a tyrant who violently suppresses dissent, to advance its agenda. It is appropriate that Facebook is so eager to be apart of the Chinese commercial enterprise. Both China and Facebook are completely amoral in their approach to wealth generation.

  9. That word “experience” as in experience center, in this article, struck me. It’s a word the refers to the very core of the human condition and the basis of each of our “lived” worlds. To incorporate it into corporation lingo, is a violent act, though surreptitious, that further commercialized of Society. It diminishes the power of authentic human relation, that is, acts that are not about money, but about goodwill toward each other, founded on ethical principles.

  10. I get that The Base hears 'socialism' and starts drooling, reaches for their guns to defend the government they despise. But how very sad to see the Pavlovian response of Congress to Trump's school-boy threats and resolve to crush socialism in America at all costs. Yes, thank God for Trump. These old Congressional boys are the biggest proponents of American socialism ever. Corporate socialism. Social support for rich guys. Picking corporate winners and users with abandon, and showering the elect with government money. Anyone, any formerly responsible media outlet that lets this pass without detailed analysis, and a campaign of straight talk to soothe worried patriotic breasts, is irresponsible to the level of complicity. We are a nation that avidly pursues "socialist" policies, and have done so since the moment of our founding. NY Times, set that record straight. Short-circuit this disingenuous and dangerous debate now. That's not politics its pursuit of the truth, and it really is your job.

  11. @oogada Certainly, you make assumptions that cling to a pessimism that is very exaggerated.

  12. I have noticed many Chinese companies market to you as if they are a US company. Then, after ordering you find your product is coming from China. If I had know it was a Chinese product coming all the way from China I would have not purchased. Now, I am very careful to research where the company is located and where the item is coming from. I do not appreciate being sold goods I would much prefer to buy from an American company. I think the USA should require that online companies list clearly where the product is made and where it is shipping from.

  13. @Laurie When you order a new iPhone from Apple, it also ships straight from China. No one would call them a "Chinese" company... though at this point it's probably not accurate to call them "American" either.

  14. @Laurie Do you have a toaster, or any counter top kitchen appliance? They're all made in China. I bet your shoes are too.

  15. A little bit overreaction aren't we? When businesses do ads, they always collect consumer data in that country, US or China, one way or the other, even before the Facebook era. Say Pepsi wants to market new drinks or Disney wants to promote new movies. They may well choose Facebook outside of China and choose Weibo within China. It is no different from Chinese vendors mentioned in this article to use Facebook to sell outside of China and choose Chinese social networks to sell within China. Not everything is political, most of stuffs here are purely commercial.

  16. @zj Given the amount of intellectual property and data theft in which the Chinese have been engaged over the past few decades, that is a very naïve perspective. The Russians weaponized FB a dozen years ago, and the US has still not dealt with the implications. If the Chinese so choose, they might very well decide to meddle in either our politics or economy at some future date.

  17. A lot of people are misinformed about communist nations being socialist; nothing is further from the truth. The truth is that communism, in practice, is an extreme form of right wing politics. There is no welfare state and there are no unions. Communism is more aligned to GOP than the Democrats.

  18. @CK China is not a communist country; it is a fascist authoritarian dictatorship.

  19. I went to the official facebook page of 'Mark Zuckerberg', within the last hour, and wrote this: (Probably will disappear and get deleted) So the official communist party of China government members are now connected to face book; howabout ordinary citizen Wang bloggs on the street, in China, getting access to facebook on the World Wide Web?

  20. No Russian infiltration of elections in China, then! Clever.

  21. Not a fan of the Chinese censor practices, but in the case of Facebook they are on the ball and know when to cut off a uncontrollable society disrupting digital monster before it even sets in. They only have to look around the world like the UK, Myanmar and the US to see how disruptive Facebook can be with governments that don’t have a clue (unless it serves their interest, hi GOP) how to regulate a money grabbing data monopolist.

  22. Basically it's a con job supporting service for FB advertising.

  23. I think we have an overwhelming tinsel of deference to Xi here, something not really fitting with the reality of the man. But money bespeaks all here does it not? And will money pave the solution for rampant Chinese Communist squandering of human values? To be seen, I suppose, to be seen.

  24. The Chinese are wise to block Facebook. Considering how Facebook has operated in the USA and the rest of the "free" world, if I were a government official I would consider Facebook to be a threat to national security and social stability. They would act essentially as an agent of espionage against the people of China, collecting and storing vast amounts of personal data on its citizens. All sorts of revolutionary cells would spring up and use Facebook to organize and communicate their learned techniques of disruption and agitation so popular here in the USA. But we have "freedom of speech" so that makes riots in the streets patriotic and constitutionally protected, especially if you are a liberal progressive leftist.

  25. Sociopaths find their level.

  26. I'm guessing that only 'approved' government communist party members have access to face book in China and they'll be intellectual property mining. On the bright side, for all their lack of transparency in China, they consistently show as the worse nation in the world for computer virus infections. Don't forget the owner of face book is married to a lady of Chinese descent. No principles and standards that adhere to democratic practises so face book is selling it's soul to communist China and censorship that excludes democratic principles, all because they have $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ signs in their eyes.

  27. If the Chinese Communist Party ever gains control of the United States, I hope that it will repeal the Second Amendment and provide socialized health care.

  28. I've got my popcorn and I'm waiting for the inevitable scandal springing from Facebook actively soliciting Chinese influence of Americans and others.

  29. Maybe if we ask politely, the Chinese will teach us how to block Facebook. If we could do that, the economic productivity and personal mental health of Americans would increase dramatically. (Which might be a reason they wouldn’t teach us!)