Is Facebook Heading to China?

When Mark Zuckerberg took his "vacation" to China last year, it was largely interpreted as laying the groundwork for a possible introduction of Facebook to China. Now, Facebook is reportedly in talks with partners about a possible move. Bloomberg reports that Facebook has held "exploratory" talks with companies in China. Chinese bloggers have been floating rumors that Facebook is partnering with search giant Baidu for a joint Chinese venture.

Makes sense that Facebook would want to tap into China with its 457 million Internet users. That's a lot of potential Farmville players! But it will have to deal with oppressive government censorship, well-established Chinese social networking competition, and a population that is extremely conservative when it comes to privacy.

Google hightailed it out of China after it was attacked by "highly sophisticated" Chinese hackers. But for a while, it happily to censor results on its Chinese site. Will Facebook similarly cooperate with the government to facilitate expansion? They may not actually have to change much: Facebook has already made it clear it's no great friend of Chinese dissidents.

[Image of Mark Zuckerberg at Chinese Internet company Sina]