In a recent book published in China by the name “Blue Book on new Media development”, views express the potent threat that Facebook poses to China’s security. According to this book published by the China’s Academy of Social Sciences, social networking sites like Facebook, twitter etc gain access to the personal information of the Chinese nationals and hence might result in a security threat.
For those unaware of the entire scenario, it may be noted here that China has always regarded free speech as a hurdle to smooth governance. Hence, it has always taken steps to ban or restrict certain sites from the internet. According to reports,China uses an indigenous censoring device that works by blocking the URLs and certain keywords that the Chinese government deems as subversive. Recently, Chinese authorities also had a tiff with Google over certain cyber attacks and threatened to ban the site from the Chinese online arena.
Since the Chinese people are not allowed freedom of speech, social networking sites make for their only mouth-piece. With the ban of these social networking sites, hence, it is the Chinese masses that stand to lose. So far, they have been able to interact with the outside world only through these social networking sites. Some human rights activists are also of the view that shutting down social networking sites will only enhance the atrocities that the citizens have to face in a country, even as they go unnoticed by the world. It is only through social networking sites that the citizens can get their sentiments and truth across to the world. Human right activists are of the view that such research against social networking sites are funded by the government itself in a bid to control this form of media.
However, the Blue Book is of the view that the western intelligence might employ the information taken from the Facebook pages or such social networking sites against China itself. To add to the threat, these social networking sites extract data and personal information from the Chinese netizens only to sell it to the third party for advertising or other promotion purposes. Since there are more than 400 million internet users in mainland China and over 100 million users in the rural areas, both the facts mentioned above pose a grave threat to the Chinese government.
After the release of the book, several social networking websites responded by closing the user’s comment box under the topic “Blue Book”. Most of these sites were concerned that if these comments were to be shown and posted, Chinese government might retaliate by banning the website itself. One such incidence has already come to light in the past when the Chinese government banned Twitter in the wake of an upcoming Tianananmen anniversary. Other sites such as YouTube and Flickr too have been blocked in the past.
Considering the extremely tight control that Chinese government keeps over media – online, print and all – the publication of Blue Book will prove to aggravate the situation even further.