Facebook Traffic from China Drops by Half in the Last Month

facebook-chinese-flagSomething is still up with Facebook in China, and it’s not traffic.

At the beginning of July, Facebook’s audience in China was around 1 million monthly active users (MAU) – still a minute fraction of China’s 300 million Internet users. However, today, that number has fallen to just over half a million – a drop of nearly 50% in the last 30 days. One likely reason: increased filtering by the Chinese government.

For its part, Facebook isn’t commenting much on the trend. “We have heard reports of users in China having problems accessing Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson says.

facebook-blocked-chinaBut the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society’s Herdict project, a collaborative system designed to show what users around the world are experiencing in terms of web accessibility, is showing increased reports of Facebook being inaccessible in China in recent days.

Back in April, we reported on why Facebook hasn’t grown more in China, highlighting features of the local Chinese social networking landscape that pose a challenge to Facebook’s culture and mission. Since then, China has committed to a new level of Internet censorship. In early July, the government blocked access to Facebook and Twitter after riots broke out between protesters and police in China’s Xinjiang province. Users accessing Facebook in China got the following message:

facebook-china-cut-off

But even before the riots broke out, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology mandated that the “Green Dam Youth Escort” software would be installed on computers sold in China, as well as those imported into the country. The software, which serves as a web filter, is intended to keep China’s youth away from pornography and other illicit content, but the disturbing question is whether it will bring China’s political and religious censorship to new heights, not to mention introduce a host of new and dangerous security problems to Chinese Internet users. Furious web protesters were happy to hear that the mandate was delayed from its original effect date of July 1.

In China, censorship is billed as a “necessary evil” in today’s world of “questionable” user generated content, and users have learned to deal with it, albeit frustratingly so. China has one of the most developed social application economies, with its robust gaming and virtual goods markets, but it looks like Facebook is not making significant inroads at the moment.

Nevertheless, that isn’t stopping some Chinese developers and investors from moving on to the Facebook Platform to reach new users in the west.

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Leave a Reply

9 Responses to “Facebook Traffic from China Drops by Half in the Last Month”

  1. Cheap Facebook Developers says:

    One of my friend who live in China also told me this. This is also happen with him once. May be the govt or some other proxy have banned their. Dont know why this is happening. Thanks for info

  2. Niels Boegholm says:

    It’s not “One likely reason…” – it is *the* reason. FB has been banned/blocked/artificially slowed down from China for the past 4-5 weeks and this is generally still the case. “Power users”/blogosphere/dissenters know which proxies and how to use but the typical internet cafe access or “average” home PC user cannot access FB. And other sites such as Twitter, WordPress,etc

    Going to be interesting to see if FB will follow yahoo,google,others and give in to self-censorship or rather decide to “ignore” the Chinese market if self-censorship is a pre-requisite for doing business.

  3. chinajoe says:

    Facebook in China is shut down full stop. You can get around it with software but that doesn’t always work. Twitter, CNN and even AOL and Skype are affected.

  4. Facebook addio: un’ondata di esclusi e fuggiaschi online » Panorama.it - Hitech e Scienza says:

    [...] Mark Zuckerberg. Il traffico dal paese del dragone è stato dimezzato negli ultimi trenta giorni: secondo il blog Inside Facebook, è una conseguenza dovuta alle restrizioni dettate dalle autorità [...]

  5. The Three Countries That Lost Facebook Users Last Month: China, Iceland and Cyprus says:

    [...] obviously, Facebook has been blocked in China since July — at that point it had around 1 million users. Sure, there are proxy servers and other ways of accessing the site, but very few people apparently [...]

  6. OT says:

    Besides the obvious censorship issue, Chinese government’s other objective (by using this as reason) for blocking Facebook is to create competitive advantage for its homegrown social sites.

    In fairness, Facebook should block all apps from Chinese developers. After all, most of the Chinese developed games I see on Facebook are blatant rip-off other companies. I’m talking about you Happy Harvest (clone of Barn Buddy), Happy Farm, etc.

    I’m of Chinese ancestry and I’ll be the first to day that China operates on double standard. Non-Chinese companies always get different set of law which makes it much more difficult to do business in that country.

  7. Facebook bloqué par la Grande Muraille de Chine @Economie Numerique – Blogue du cours says:

    [...] on est témoin de la situation inverse. Bien que le taux de pénétration initiale de moins de 1 % (1 million d’utilisateurs actifs au début de juillet 2009 sur les 338 millions d’internautes) soit grandement causé par la [...]

  8. China: Pläne für White Listing des Internets : netzpolitik.org says:

    [...] der Vergangenheit große Breitenwirkung bewiesen. So verlor Facebook innerhalb eines Monats die Hälfte seiner Nutzer in China, nachdem das Social Network auf der Sperrliste gelandet war. abgelegt in: China, Zensurgetaggt [...]

  9. BEB says:

    In reply to:

    ”Besides the obvious censorship issue, Chinese government’s other objective (by using this as reason) for blocking Facebook is to create competitive advantage for its homegrown social sites.

    In fairness, Facebook should block all apps from Chinese developers. After all, most of the Chinese developed games I see on Facebook are blatant rip-off other companies. I’m talking about you Happy Harvest (clone of Barn Buddy), Happy Farm, etc.

    I’m of Chinese ancestry and I’ll be the first to day that China operates on double standard. Non-Chinese companies always get different set of law which makes it much more difficult to do business in that country.”

    If Facebook blocked all Chinese apps etc they’d probably have nothing left! Just like if everyone decided not to buy anything made in China! Unfortunately they have the upper hand here, they make everything and so therefore they can pretty much dictate everything! To be honest if they don’t want Facebook then fair play they will lose alot of young people in China! Young people now are very headstrong and if they don’t like there country they will look elsewhere!

    BEB

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