It has just been reported that Facebook has entered into a deal with the popular Chinese search engine Baidu, in order to launch their services in China.
Unnamed sources at Baidu have claimed that the two parties have reached an understanding already. However, there has been no official confirmation from either party.
The report was first relayed on Sohu.com.
Stories about the possibility of such an agreement have been doing the rounds since last December when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visited China on a business cum holiday trip. During this trip he not only met CEO of Baidu, Robin Li but also representatives of China Mobile Ltd. and Sina Corp.
It is believed that if such an agreement does reach the stage of execution, it will be in the form of a standalone service from Facebook. This service will not be connected to the international version, as they will be required to follow the censorship rules in China. At present topics such as pornography, gambling and criticism of the ruling Communist party are banned in China.
Facebook, Twitter YouTube etc. which do not follow these censorship guidelines have been blocked in China. Google on the other hand withdrew their operations from mainland China last year, following differences with the government.
Mark Zuckerberg will be required to sort out several issues not only in China but also in the U.S. before he is able to launch Facebook in China.
Launching the site in China, is now likely to be more difficult than ever before, because of the role which the internet in general and social networking sites in particular have played during the recent protests in Egypt, Libya etc.