Facebook has created a censorship tool to automatically suppress certain posts in specific geographic areas — and several employees who worked on the project quit in dismay, reports the New York Times.
This software would give third parties, like internet service providers, the ability to monitor Facebook for popular stories, and suppress them at will.
This tool is one of many that Facebook has experimented with to get back into China, where it’s been blocked from users since 2009, says the report, and has never actually been used.
Regardless, the fact that company leadership would even consider this approach has reportedly troubled some Facebook employees, seeing it as a betrayal of the social network’s values around openness and transparency in the name of getting access to the vast market represented by China.
The topic became so contentious, Facebook turned it into the subject of an all-hands employee Q&A in July, the report says. Zuckerberg reportedly expressed his belief that it’s better to be “part of enabling the conversation in China,” even if it can’t let users participate in “full conversation.”
Facebook is hardly the only tech company struggling with re-entry into China: Companies like Twitter and Google are still blocked there, even as Apple has invested heavily in selling the iPhone in the country.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.