TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing held in Washington D.C. on Sept. 5, top officials with Facebook and Twitter said the two companies had no plans to enter the Chinese market.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg both responded to questions from U.S. Senators concerning possible business ventures into China. Dorsey said Twitter has no current plans, and Sandberg sought to dispel recent rumors that Facebook might be considering such a move.
Social media giants in the U.S. like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have come under heavy scrutiny over the past month for allegations of promoting censorship and bias on their platforms.
In the case of Google, it has been revealed that they are preparing a “censorship engine” and a suite of related applications called “Dragonfly” to enter the Chinese market. They have come under heavy scrutiny from human rights’ groups, politicians and the public for the plans that leaked in August.
Remarkably, Google did not have a qualified representative respond to the Congressional summons for the hearing this week, which is not likely to help Google avoid closer government scrutiny moving forward.
Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly made several visits to China and the company recently founded a subsidiary “innovation hub” in Zhejiang Province. These moves have driven speculation that the company may be considering more expansive operations in China.
Speaking on such speculation, Sandberg was quoted as saying:
“The Chinese government has chosen not to allow our service in China.... You know we’ve been open about the fact that our mission is to connect the world and that means it’s hard to do that without connecting the world’s largest population. But in order to go into China, we would have to be able to do so in keeping with our values. And that’s not possible right now.”
Dorsey said that since China’s ban on Twitter, that the company has not considered pursuing business in the country, “we have other priorities,” said the twitter exec.
Senator Tom Cotton commended both companies for the decision stating, “I think both of you should, and your company should, wear it as a badge of honor that the Chinese Communist Party has blocked you from operating in their country.”
Yahoo Finance reports that the senator blasted Google for their failure to attend the hearing. Cotton reportedly planned to ask Google why they had terminated their business cooperation with the American military while also pursuing closer ties with the Chinese Communist Party, and developing a CCP censor approved social media network and search engine.
Senator Marco Rubio commenting on Google’s empty seat at the hearing said “maybe it’s because they’re arrogant.”