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Of course Zuckerberg wants to bow to Chinese censorship (signalvnoise.com)
265 points by mVach0n 244 days ago | hide | past | web | 121 comments | favorite



"We can't stop fake news, it's a really hard problem."

"Look at this thing we built to stop real news."


I don't think it's a coincidence that Facebook is building censorship tools at the same time they are talking about "fake news". It seems that the tooling to deal with both of these "problems" has a lot of overlap and could potentially be the same.

I lived in China for almost a decade during its economic rise, and many predicted an opening and democratization of China. But it always seemed to me that the US was becoming more like China rather than the other way around, and so far I haven't been disappointed.


Blame the business community that realized you could have a market economy within an authoritarian putatively communist government. Now they've been pushing hard to mold the whole world in that image under mantle of free trade.


I think it's a bit unfair to blame this squarely on the market economy. There's high levels of social fragmentation in the West leading towards the desire to censor the other side's speech.


Are you saying that a fragmented society in itself necessarily motivates censorship, that diversity causes repression? What is the engine of this desire?


I wonder how many of them have managed to actually sell into this market.


It really looked like china was going to open up in 2008 before backtracking in a serious way for he next 10 years. You are probably right about the US, though it has a long way to go, maybe look at the U.K. or Austrailia?


If it's 100% public as to what exactly is being censored: the when, the who, the what, etc - an uncensored list of this - then that'd be a very different situation than something done behind closed doors.

The question of whether we should or how could we trust Facebook or any government if they did publish a list - is it complete or not? How would we know an algorithm isn't reducing it's reach solely because it is on a specific list?


I don't understand - obviously they wouldn't publish such a list in China, and what good would it do outside of China? Admittedly, Chinese who break through the GFW would find it useful, but given that I have a hard time imagining the Chinese government accepting FB if they did publish such a list outside of China.


That's really not a fair comparison. What they are saying is actually:

1) "We can't automate the stopping of fake news without hiring an army of trained human censors"

2) "Although since China already has an army of trained censors, it'd be easy to fix stuff for them with an API"

Edit, forgot to save, sorry:

The implication on #1 there is that for Facebook the cost is not worth it. Whether or not you agree with that is fine, but it's incredibly unfair to call it the same problem as China's censorship. It would cost Facebook something like $2-4 billion per year in labor to deploy a similar solution for just the united States


Taking a stab at a naive calculation, $3B worth of $60K/yr positions is 50,000 employees.


Yup except China uses like 100k workers for ~200m online users, so scale up a bit.


At a rate of 0.5%, the job is going to have to be extremely unskilled in order to get enough hires.


It's a rate of 0.007% for China by virtue of their 1.5b population.


0.5% of online users.


Right but they don't have to hire from only that pool.


I think I'm not being clear. Using the China example, the number of censors required is 0.5% of the number of online users regardless of whether the censors are members of the "online users" group or not.


Maybe, it could be that it doesn't scale linearly though. All I know is where the numbers are at now (or actually, a year or two ago).


A $60k/yr employee costs more like $100k-$140k/yr, depending on the area. Taxes, Benefits, insurance, office space, equipment, support employment (HR, Legal, etc).


It is, of course, much easier to tell if a piece of news is inconvenient or objectionable to the powerful than it is to tell if it's true. That's what makes the recent push to ban fake news and its laser-like focus on items that are pro-Trump or anti-Clinton so scary.


Has there been anyone gathering statistics on this? i.e. were there also pro-Clinton fake news sites that we didn't hear about? And what are the percentages like?

I don't know if a objective analysis of this is possible, but has anyone even tried?


Well a lot of Media stayed silent on DNC scandal. CNN said general public shouldn't have possession of Wikileak's documents and should only rely on media for the information on Wikileaks.

What pisses me off with a lot people taking a moral stand against trump saying he is fascist, misogynist, racist (which is true btw) is that they ignore that Hilary voted yes for Iraq war, invaded Libya and look at Syria. Three failed countries where countless people have died and continue to die. Where is your morality now?


I don't think anyone has tried, and I'm not sure how you'd even tell - there's no solid definition of "fake news". For example, a story from a site called Bipartisan Report which claimed that Trump would eliminate overtime pay for 20 million Trump voters was doing the rounds a few days ago: http://bipartisanreport.com/2016/11/21/breaking-trump-announ... It's not true - the total number of Americans affected is about 4 million, their figure probably included every Trump voter earning under the new threshold, including unemployed, self-employed and retired people, and people who were already eligible for overtime anyway. They also have a handful of Snopes entries associated with them: http://www.snopes.com/search/?q=bipartisan+report Is this fake news or just sloppy reporting from a third-rate site?


To be fair, do you want a Facebook censorship board?


Facebook is already deciding what you see, that's a fundamental part of their business model. An editorial board deciding which stories get promoted is nothing different from what they already do.

The more fundamental problem is that Facebook makes it far easier and more profitable to run a cheap website stuffed with completely made-up stories than an actual newspaper, because it is much easier to catch people's attention with an outrageous fake headline than with boring real news.


Agreed. They already decided a long time ago to "manipulate" what you saw. That was the point where they decided to not simply show the latest items for all the pages you "liked", but to rather promote the "popular" ones based on what your "interests" are.

Now that they did that, then all of a sudden "oh fake news". If they had just kept it to latest first, from only the pages you liked, then there would be no way for them to "wiggle in" such a thing as "fake news". On the one, the person's choices dictate what they see later on, and on the other Facebook has to "tune" things to your liking.

That's why there is such an dark-pattern on Facebook when you try to "UnLike" a page. I urge everyone to go give it a try and tell me if it's intuitive or obvious.


That already exists. Just try posting a photo of a female nipple.


As mentioned, it already exists and it's not democratic and you can't complain about it or anything. Completely useless fascist censorship board.


You seem to believe "fascist" is the opposite of "democratic".

How would you call a Communist state? Democratic? Fascist?


The Facebook editorial board already existed, and got decried as a liberal conspiracy.

I really don't see how Facebook wins here.


Facebook doesn't win.

Which is good. Because it would be sad if collaborators in human oppression on the largest scale still happening in the modern era were the winners.


Why does it have to win? Maybe it's wrong on all counts?


What would it mean, what would it look like, for Facebook to "win here?"


To be fair, a lot of it is fake news. So much crap is "reported" about China that a lot of often exaggerated and spun in a certain way.

So I can definitely see why the Chinese government wants to protect itself.

I think Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" should be required watching to understand how real news can be spun to be positive or negative, e.g. 1 in 10 people die from this drug vs. 90% of people are saved with this medicine.

That's what China is trying to protect itself against.


> To be fair, a lot of it is fake news. So much crap is "reported" about China that a lot of often exaggerated and spun in a certain way.

This is just an excuse.

The rich and powerful in any country wanted to control media. They need fake news and make them prominent. They certainly can eliminate them easily; just like they would to censor real news. But they do need them to become prominent so people can buy in that censorship is necessary.


> This is just an excuse.

Possibly, but in case this happens to be true it may be hard to convince them to give up on censoring Western media, right?


AFAIK, the censorship is driven by the fear that the western media's intention is to subvert the CCP ruling. Fake news were never a problem. Unless the fake news has the same effect. But in that case, it's not difficult to disapprove the claim anyway.

China's Internet is full of junk and fake information. A while ago a poor young man's family spent their life's saving on hospital treatment that in reality does not help anything. Their belief comes from a seemingly legitimate source on Baidu Tieba. And just a few days ago, a patient believed that a doctor maliciously ignore his request to treat his daughter according to the fake "treatment" from some online search results. And stubbed the doctor 9 times, one of them pierced the doctor's heart.

Such stuff are routinely ignored, why? Because they do not pose a threat to the government's ruling. Instead, they actually reinforce the fact that government control over media is needed, which obviously is a vote to their continued ruling.

Another joke I learned recently perfectly explains this fact: In a community there is an abandoned car. The residents repeatedly ask the community manager to move it and no one did anything. Then one day someone painted "democracy, freedom" on the car, then the car disappeared next day...


That and trying to pretend events like Tiananmen Square never happened.


> It’s difficult to get an entrepreneur to understand something, when their valuation depends on them not understanding it.

Interesting (and unsurprising) that the comments here all focus on Facebook rather than the general problem. Cisco did the same thing by building the great firewall. Dubai has no shortage of western companies selling solutions to censor the Internet. When Wikileaks was raising money on Amazon it only took an angry statement from a Senator to get them banned.

Companies are happy to dump principles and take the money. The solution won't be complaining about Facebook. Trying to legislate companies bad actions is how we got here, so that might work with some issues in the past, but it isn't the solution we need now. Protesting and boycotting can get Apple to stop using child labor and suicide nets, but as a solution it's slow and reactionary.


I wrote this yesterday:

> Zuckerberg came to a compromise to be chums with the Communist party in China. I wonder if that will ever pay off especially when you are so invested now and the relationship is dictated completely on the conditions of the foreign government. If this is the beginning then I shudder to think what the next compromise will be that affects their end user. It sets an uneasy precedent for future prospects eager to capture the enormous market in China.

I'm really proud of Google that they just got up and left China once they realized it was a one way relationship with a lot of giving and giving.

I think this is a huge blunder from Zuckerberg and it definitely hurts Facebook's brand.

It also shows a more underlying urgency from Zuck, the stock price is tied to user base growth and without it, the perceived future value evaporates with it. That in turn shows how elusive this "zero-interest rate capital funded growth at all cost" is and it's starting to show cracks.

Recall the Porsche story during the 70s when access to capital was really great. The problem was they assumed capital would always be there but what happened was when they most needed it the market conditions have changed and Volkswagen swallowed it up.

Facebook's revenue models are coming under scrutiny as advertisers can't justify the ambiguous metrics and ROI.

I wonder who will buy Facebook, perhaps News Corp?


> I'm really proud of Google that they just got up and left China once they realized it was a one way relationship with a lot of giving and giving.

Google has essentially the same relationship with the US government. It's departure from China had more to do with this than any high mindedness.


apples & oranges my friend....


> I'm really proud of Google that they just got up and left China

For now. We used to say that information wants to be free. We can say today that money wants to be made. Eventually Google's growth will not be sustainable by creating or buying products and eventually killing them, they'll need new markets.


Care to elaborate on the Porsche story? Or a link maybe? This sounds really interesting.


Maybe think about it this way: President Zuckerberg.


The best quote was in one of the comments: "If Zuckerberg was an action figure, his spine would be sold separately."


his spine would be sold separately

Sorry, that item is out of stock.


That's #PureFuckingGenius


Zuckerberg created Facebook in bad faith (as a hateful hot-or-not site) and it has been run in the same vein ever since. We can criticize him till we're blue in the face, but the only thing that will make a difference is if each and every one of us log off and delete our accounts.


Social media addiction is a real thing - if you want to quit Facebook but don't want to deal with the hassle of installing browser extensions or deleting your account (Facebook deliberately makes this complicated), just log out from all your browsers and delete any installed apps.

If you depend on Facebook for managing a page (work, band, etc), just use the dedicated Pages application. Same applies for Messenger if you don't want to get rid of it.

It's helped me curb the ridiculous "CTRL+T, fa, enter" reflex - seeing the login page instead of my Facebook feed every time I do this makes me notice how out of hand this has gotten for me.


I got flagged for using a pseudonym after 7 years - they want government ID - took about a week to get rid of the CTRL-T reflex and dopamine hit.


Planning to do that this week actually. Just have to make sure all the folks I know on Facebook have me email address and I'm good to go.

I am so sorry I ever joined that f*cking site.


I did that roughly a year ago. My happiness level increased immediately.


Isn't this amazing? My wife still uses Facebook, and I think she thinks I'm just trying to be like a pushy vegan when I say life's better with no Facebook.

In general I have tried to remove myself from things that keep my attention on my phone rather than what's going on around me. Now I sort of get frustrated when people ask me what they missed or what just happened in the real world while they were glancing down.

I have friends and family who I think have completely forgotten what's it like to just be a passenger in a car watching the world go by, because if they're not driving they're looking at Facebook or Instagram.


Good to know. I shudder when I think of how much time I've wasted over the past 5 years or so with that social media rubbish.


Congrats. I did it around 6 months ago. Much happier now :)


I dropped I while a go. Then I got back. Realized it suck even more and deleted my account. No way I'm wasting my time with that again.


"Zuckerberg created Facebook in bad faith (as a hateful hot-or-not site)"

What made the original Facebook hateful when compared with other "hot-or-not" sites?



- I can understand Facebook's action here, it's either give in or be out of the biggest market of tomorrow.

- I can understand western media trying to stir polemic about it, it's how they make their money.

- I can't understand people buying media crap and getting "shocked". Didn't Facebook do similar things for US Gov in the past? Did they think Zuck was a people's champion?


> Did they think Zuck was a people's champion?

You say that as if it was obvious. But actually he is successful, he is young, he is rich, he is known as tech-genius that changed the alone with his 2 bare hands, he is everything that we are supposed to aspire to be in the Western world.

As such, he is continuously spin as a good natured fellow tirelessly working for the good of mankind. So yes that will surprise a lot of people to learn he is not the White Knight they thought he was.


If you know Zuckerbergs history it's pretty apparent he was never a white knight of any description, he's talented but there is a lot of right place/right time as well.

Still that doesn't feed the narrative beast so we conveniently forget that.

You see the same with other tech CEO's all the time, I rather like Larry Ellison for that reason, he rarely pretends to be anything he isn't.


I remember Zuck's chat screenshots from many years ago where he called his collegemats as "dumb fucks" because they "trust me"


The screenshots are still floating around. I saw them on Quora a couple of days ago


Yep, saw it on Quora too.


Aside from his face? He's had way too much work done on it.

Also not sure how much credit Ellison deserves for being unrepentantly unethical. I guess that's slightly better than being duplicitous about it, but still far from being worthy of admiration.


> with his 2 bare hands

I hope you do not believe this yourself. Seeing this on HN makes me sad, and it is an insult to FB employees that it's Zuck built everything with his 2 bare hands. Such media manufactured popular misconception should not have any breathing air on HN.


I don't personally and I don't believe there is any mistake in the technically minded crowd.

But that's the reality of the world outside and that world is way bigger than ours. Ignoring it will not make it go away.


Facebook makes more money. NSA gets another tap in China. China gets to tap and censor Facebook data. They all win, at the people's expense.


People get more ads. A 4 way win-win-win-win situation.


I think I'm getting tired of winning.


> " The easiest way to be disappointed is to expect others to act contrary to their self-interest."

This opening summarizes the entire sentiment. FB and Zukerberg are not on your side and do not uphold any banner of morality.

I am going to have this quote framed and put up on a wall somewhere. For some reason, I suspect life and business will be easier if I remember it.


I think our expectation of idealism from companies is to broad. I mean, it's great if companies take idealistic stances. But ultimately, I'm not even sure that it's FB's place to promote democratic ideals.

Freedom of expression, association, conscience & press are political freedoms at the centre of liberal-democratic ideologies and governing systems. China is not a liberal democracy, in theory or practice. There are treaties which define these freedoms as "human rights" but I think China is a nonsignator to them.

I do believe these freedoms should be protected for everyone. But in calling for them in non-democracies, one is pretty much calling for revolution. It's reasonable for us as individual democrats (or adherents to other ideologies which believe in these freedoms) to call for these rights to be honoured in china. It's kind of wierd expecting Facebook to.

The actual lib-dem regimes (US, EU, Japan etc.) are not refusing to do business in China until they honour these freedoms.

TLDR: Expecting FB to champion the cause of liberal democratic reform in China is too much to expect.


> There are treaties which define these freedoms as "human rights" but I think China is a nonsignator to them.

The ROC drafted and signed the UDHR (not a treaty), but the PRC was then at war with the ROC and doesn't view itself as a successor state to it.

The ICCPR, which is an actual treaty related to UDHR rights, was signed but not ratified by the PRC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Covenant_on_Civi...

The Constitution of the PRC protects a broad range of political rights (!)

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_People%27...

Perhaps the government's view is that articles 51-54 (on limitations of political rights) justify the very extensive restrictions that the government has put on these rights in practice.


Once a tool is built, humans find more uses for it beyond its original purpose. It doesn't matter if it was meant for another problem or region. Anti-terrorism laws, surplus military equipment, censorware for China...


"At the very least it seems that several Facebook employees decided that their conscience was worth more and quit over having to work on this. Kudos to them." Source on this?


I think the bet is that over time China will become more-less a Western society, as the old guards slowly die off, and it's better for FB to have their foot in the door. I believe that is based on the progress theory, that all societies progress in time towards similar structure, and assumption the Western one is more progressive than the Chinese one. We will see if this works out; we can see there was a recent divergence in quite a few countries like Russia, Turkey etc. as well as internal strain in Western societies themselves. We can easily end up in an unstable chaos theory mode too.


> as the old guards slowly die off, and it's better for FB to have their foot in the door. I believe that is based on the progress theory, that all societies progress in time towards similar structure,

Yes, but in which direction? Is Facebook, and especially its self-aware pile of billion$, pulling China west, or is it pulling the west to authoritarianism? Somewhere there's a line whose crossing will be fatal, and it's an open question which side of that line we're on right now.

Trump, Putin, Brexit, LePen make me doubt a lot of my assumptions about progress.


That's exactly the question. I guess we will see... Anyway, it looks like interesting times in the Chinese sense of the word are coming.


I think your comment reflects the naivety of Western thinkers when it comes to China.

Chinese gov has zero interest in pursuing a US like democratic system as do other surrounding big economies. Singapore is a good example, as well as Japan with it's single party that always wins, Korea's choi-gate scandal that exposed near dictatorial decision making at the very top (and PGH's father was a dictator) shows that at the structural level, the one party system which was further encouraged by the US during cold war against communism, shows a clear rift between the mentality of West vs East.

Another big reason they are so set on keeping the status quo is the sheer amount of embarassing crimes against humanity which would almost guarantee former president Jiang Zemin an international spot light in Hague trials. Saving face is a huge component but also national pride plays a large role in China.

However, the biggest reason for China's commitment to it's current one party leadership structure is to avoid destabilization with it's multi-ethnic demographic. Even my friend from the mainland alleges that there are inter-provincial beefs and people won't even do business with certain ethnic groups or province due to existing stereotypes. Given it's massive population, US styled approach would be catastrophic.

Of course, I believe China must eventually become free and open but I also understand the impossible task of imposing Western ideologies onto China from the top down.

Change in China must come from the bottom up, the people, as we briefly saw a glimpse of that during the late 80s. People are too afraid, chasing materialism and money, a form of escapism, and the rich almost do certainly leave the PRC to live the American dream.

When China opens it's doors, which seems improbable this century (USSR only collapsed due to economic collapse otherwise it would still go on today and it's only a superficial democracy where control of the economy is centralized and divided through crony capitalism at the expense of average Russian citizen who's wealth is poorer than the average Indian), only then the giant that Napoleon was talking about will awaken.

I'd welcome that kind of China. If it doesn't happen it doesn't. I really don't get the "dont-miss-out-on-china" attitude. I don't give a shit about making more money through China by throwing away my own values like Zuckerberg did. Quoting Chow Yun Fat who got blacklisted from mainland cinema "Guess I will make less money then, I don't give a fuck".

Until it's mature enough, I don't think it's wise to sacrifice and compromise in the vague improbable scenario that is miles down this century.

In the meanwhile, read http://chinalawblog.com which offers a very good insight into doing business in China.

Every individual I've talked to so far that went to chase the Chinese Dream, have returned penniless, fed up, and repulsed by the mention of it.

How many Laowai do you know that made it in China that was able to take their hard earned capital out of the country successfully and live the life of the communist party princeling's offspring lifestyle in America?

edit: Hong Kong doesn't count as it's status and reputation it earned under British colonial rule that was favorable to Western businesses are no longer guaranteed as it integrates into the Chinese political system. As will Taiwan eventually and perhaps North Korea becoming another "province".


Suck isn't bowing to censorship. He's bowing to profits. That is, ultimately, if he didn't need profits, he wouldn't have to deal with censorship.

Put another way, stop blaming censorship for what is really a fault of Capitalism.


s/profit/incentives/

s/capitalism/incentives/

s/need/have/

?


The Chinese market isn't going to be as lucrative in a few months when they get labeled as a currency manipulator. I've heard the free market value of Yuan to USD is about 24.8:1, while the current official exchange rate is 6.91:1. And of course the Chinese are willing to invest that money at a loss(in Bitcoin, property, etc.) as long as it gets outside of the country before the currency implodes; not even the Chinese want to invest in China.

Obviously capturing another billion people is a big deal either way, but I think they're going to be disappointed in their Chinese revenue in a year if they expected it to continue like it is now. I'm sure Zuckerberg has some financial advisors, but I can't see why anyone would want to invest there knowing the currency inflation that's coming over the next 2 years. I guess software isn't that much of a capital investment, comparatively speaking. Depending on how Zuckerberg structures this and how much USD he's putting in and at what rates, it might be worth buying some options against Facebook.

Though, if Facebook can get in now, I'm predicting riots in a year or two, and 'accidentally' having some problems with the anti-censorship systems could end up helping the protesters at a particularly important time. Who knows.


>The Chinese market isn't going to be as lucrative in a few months when they get labeled as a currency manipulator. I've heard the free market value of Yuan to USD is about 24.8:1, while the current official exchange rate is 6.91:1

This seems a bit backwards. The currency manipulation argument is that they are artificially weakening their currency to make manufacturing and exported products more competitive, not strengthening it.

And while I would tend to agree that the the reality at this point is in fact the reverse, your argument on the basis of "I've heard that the free market value..." is not particularly robust.

The NDF futures market, which is free to trade wherever the free market sees the pair going, is perhaps a better place to look. For reference, the current Dec 2019 future is 7.44:1 [1]

[1] http://www.cmegroup.com/trading/fx/emerging-market/chinese-r...


> your argument on the basis of "I've heard that the free market value..." is not particularly robust.

I heard that from some former Chinese daytraders. I agree that it would be a bad idea to trade assuming my ratio without a better source.

> which is free to trade wherever the free market sees the pair going,

I don't know how to interpret those numbers. I'm not sure exactly how the futures market interacts with currency controls.

I've read that Venezuela also has currency controls, and while the official exchange rate of VEF:USD seems to be 10:1 from a quick Google search, I also see a Bloomberg article mentioning that the black market has it at 1000:1.

It could be that you get 25 Yuan by illegally shipping USD across the Chinese border to scared Chinese citizens, while the government only approves its citizens to trade at the smaller rate.


No sensible person, Chinese citizen or otherwise, is going to offer you 25 CNY per 1 USD, unless it comes attached with a US green card or something.

If you can find one, have them contact me, I'm more that happy to trade with them :). Seriously, that's is just some really bad misinformation here.


I'll ask the daytraders how they would convert $10 million USD into 250 million CNY(either cash, or assets like property) assuming you could either smuggle the USD into China or the Yuan out of China past the currency controls, and let you know.


1. At least in 1993, the official exchange rate was 6:1 but there were people standing outside the banks that would exchange it at 10:1. They were called the Yellow Cow Government.

2. They haven't been to China in a while, so they can't give an up-to-date black market rate. But a lot of economic indicators(property, bitcoin, etc.) show that people are willing to pay at least 20:1(conservatively).

3. Futures have to be traded in China. Otherwise they would absolutely buy large quantities of futures at the 7.44:1 price quoted here. There's political risk that the government might not enforce a futures contract if the currency gets too bad.

4. George Soros has already tried to pull a Soros on the Yuan, but it's harder when the government actively fights you.

5. At the current exchange rate, China is planning to print enough money to buy the US in a year, and the entire world in 2 years. So that exchange rate can't hold forever.

6. They reiterated that being labeled as a currency manipulator would be very bad for China, and there would be a huge surge in demand for the black market.

7. If you're caught smuggling USD into China, it's a pretty serious crime and they'll confiscate all of your USD. So the higher exchange rate has risk built into it.

8. You've been able to exchange $50k/person/year for a while, but they're starting to crack down on it. You need forms and approval for even $1000.

9. Since they're no longer in China, they wouldn't exchange at the 20:1 rate any more. But they'd happily bet against RNMB if you're selling futures at anywhere near 7.44:1 for December 2019. I'm planning to call a broker to ask about it, since I can't reconcile their pessimism with the fact that Yuan futures do seem at a glance to be traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which is a non-Chinese entity. Depending on what they say, you could probably earn a decent commission if you could refer a non-Chinese bank or something willing to deal with these guys.


I don't think anyone in the financial or international communities is going to take any notice of Trump labeling anyone anything.

The 'currency manipulator' theory is that China is keeping the value of the Yuan low to fuel exports. In reality it's the US growing debt and low interests rates that are far more of a factor in the imbalance. This is easy to see if you compare the Yuan against other currencies apart from the dollar - do that and the 'currency manipulator' theory falls apart. It's not the Yuan that's being kept weak against the dollar, but rather the dollar strengthening against everybody.


You probably know this already, but "label as a currency manipulator" doesn't mean calling the Chinese names, but refers to some provisions in the IMF and WTO.

https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS22658.pdf

You could of course claim that a formal dispute under the WTO would go nowhere, but you haven't yet done that.


Unless the IMF and WTO agree, name calling is all it is. The burden of proof will be on Trump, I don't have to claim anything.


I'm referring specifically to this paragraph:

Unique among the major international trade and finance organizations, the WTO has a mechanism for enforcing its rules. If a country believes another country has violated WTO rules, to its detriment, it may request the appointment of a dispute settlement panel to hear its complaint. The other country cannot veto the establishment of a panel or adoption of a WTO decision by WTO members. The panel reviews the arguments in the case and renders judgment based on the facts and WTO rules. If the losing party does not comply with the ruling within a reasonable period of time, the WTO may, if requested by the complaining party, authorize it to impose retaliatory measures (usually increased customs duties) against the offending country or to take other appropriate retaliatory measures against that country’s trade.

I admit I haven't read the actual trade agreements, but it appears that the WTO has no choice but to summon a panel to review Trump's claim. I'll write it out:

Claim(from you): Nobody in the financial or international communities is going to take any notice of Trump labeling anyone anything.

Assumption 1: Trump will file a dispute with the WTO.

Assumption 2: If a dispute is filed with the WTO, a panel will be convened to review it.

Assumption 3: If a panel reviews something, it has taken notice of it.

Conclusion: At least one person on the panel is in the international or finance community and will take notice of Trump's dispute.

Since we have a contradiction of the form P & ~P, either the original claim P must be rejected, or one of the assumptions behind the argument for ~P must be rejected.

I wonder: If someone is trespassing on my property and I call the police, am I merely a name caller until the court convicts them? It seems like initiating a formal process should be more than name calling.


I concede completely. You are quite correct. I'm sure Trump and the US nation will revel gloriously in the triumph of beimg noticed by a committee at the WTO.

But that's all they're going to get.


I don't see how they'd invest so much money as to have a significant impact on their bottom line. I'm guessing that even at 0 revenue Zuck would still want to be in China. It's a long-term strategic play for him.


> I've heard the free market value of Yuan to USD is about 24.8:1

Please do tell me where I can get this deal :)


"I heard", now who is the fake new maker we were talking about?


As easy as it is to hate Zuckerberg here, it's not all black and white. I think his "it's better to have a restricted conversation than no conversation at all" may have a deeper meaning.

I have worked with a Chinese company for a couple of years and been to China too. I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I think he might be on to something here.

It seems to me that China is on the verge of a major unrest upon freedom. So far most of the people are quite happy with the fact that their material well-being has literally multiplied in a very short time. That more than covers the limited freedom they currently have. After all, they haven't had a chance to get used to a great degree of freedom at any point in their history sofar.

However, increased wealth only carries so far. At some point the newly appointed members of the upper middle class are bound to start wondering, why theír offspring regularly gets bypassed by the offspring of the party officials in entering the top universities. That's going to be a big deal.

At that point attempts to suppress free speech will have an inflammatory effect. I believe this will happen in the next ten or twenty years and it cannot be avoided. What happened in Thailand a few years ago will happen in China, scaled up to two levels of magnitude.

I don't care much about Facebook or whether Zuck's motives here are entirely self-served or not. I do assume free speech in China will be a hot issue sooner or later and that Facebook may play a big part in connecting their Chinese users to the rest of the world.

I wish all the best to China, the Chinese people and my Chinese friends. Such spontaneous friendliness I have not met anywhere else. May your road in joining the domain of freedom be as smooth as possible.


This is why it's important for alternative companies to be started, ones that have ethics built in that won't bow to censorship.


How much censorship is there on WeChat? My parents came flew in for Thanksgiving...the amount of fake news on WeChat shocked me - all they showed me were pro Trump and none of which passed the sniff test...parents believed every one of them. It made for a pleasant Thanksgiving dinner conversation...

Maybe China can start there. (I know, they won't...sarcasm).


The purpose of a private corporation to make the share holders wealthy, even if you have to appease a foreign government.

Many companies cooperate with NSA, rouge governments all over the world. Everybody does that. It's not new.

At the end of the day, people have to be paid and investment needs to be multiplied.


Just because something makes money for someone doesn't mean it magically becomes ethical. Neither does it become ethical if other people do it too.


Ethics does not exist in reality. At the end of the day, you try to live a better life.

Facebook sells ads and to live longer, it needs to sell more ad. Invention is a growing vertically, which is very difficult and if you stop, you die. Expansion is growing horizontally, which is easy. You live longer, if you spread quickly.


No, it's not just about whatever you happen to feel like doing to live a better life. There's also what society will collectively do to you if you violate its ethical standards - the consequences of which are very much real.


Weird, I posted this yesterday: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13030881

I assume medium's #random at the end of the URL makes every HN post unique?


How is Facebook employees quitting over the China decision something worthy of applause? Millions are in queue for their high paying jobs. Staying inside and influencing policy is the more heroic thing to do


The people who want Facebook to take action against "Fake News" are advocating the same type action they're taking in China now. Be very careful what you wish for


Aww, he even put on a suit and tie.


It's not like these corporations ever had any leverage for the Chinese heads of state to listen to them anyway.. If you want people to act against their own self interest you need leverage..

This is just wild speculation but perhaps Facebook market penetration into china reperesents the first step in achieving this leverage.


I didnt read where FB employees quit over having to work on the project? Anyone have a source ?


Indian govt said no to "Free Basics" plan, his satellite launch project failed, fake news scam and now he is forced to give control of Facebook to Chinese govt against his company's motto. It has been a bad year for Facebook.


Given his latest statements, he's also about to bow to occidental censorship :)


An American (Freedom! Democracy!) helps a totalitarian government with censorship.

Now with Trump at the top I expect more freedoms in America to be lost.

Do we all need to lose our freedoms to remember how important they are?


I'm curious to see the "Facebook vs WeChat" battle..


[flagged]


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13037138 and marked it off-topic.


[flagged]


How on earth is it even remotely misogynistic?


Yeah man, it's crazy misogynistic to suggest that men don't like it when their wife sleeps with another man.


the context in which this applies is as follows as it seems you took offense at the syntax rather than semantic that introduces comic relief in the background of a much more urgent & dark situation in which the alignment of government oppression of civilians is being enabled by the Facebook platform. Let's analyze the spirit of that comment:

Zuckerberg is married to Facebook and he's being cuckolded by Xi's communist party.

Let me further explain that one cannot actually marry a corporation or an organization for the sake of a marital harmony but Zuckerberg's profit incentives is tightly coupled to Facebook's stock price.

In addition, Xi is not engaged in a misogynistic sexual relationship with Facebook, because a corporation has no gender and only exists as a paper & digital document, it should be impossible for humans to engage in intimacy with a piece of paper or a digital representation of a long declaration of the creation of a corporation, but I'm not passing judgement if it turns out that paper & digital legal text that describes the establishment of a corporation is a paraphernalia for some individuals, but actively dictating the terms in which Facebook is allowed to operate: completely within the needs & interests that keeps his power base afloat with none of the concerns of it's users and it's principles that traditional American democracy represents in which it was born in.


You still haven't really addressed the fact that using 'cuck'/cuckoldry as a generic insult is implicitly normalizing patriarchal gender norms and power relations, by suggesting that men whose wives are unfaithful are inherently diminished as people, or that sexual control over ones wife is the most important measure of ones worth, or myriad other gross beliefs.

> in the background of a much more urgent & dark situation in which the alignment of government oppression of civilians is being enabled by the Facebook platform

Yea, we're already several degrees OT as you mention in gp, and tbh, I'm much more personally concerned about the things affecting our lives here in the anglophone world, like the subtle and unsubtle normalization of sexist/racist/fascist language by the far right. Call me a pc sjw libtard cuck, I don't care, but I'll keep calling it out because I want HN to stay better than that.


Look, dude, it's not about inherent worth. Framing these discussions in such terms is a rhetorical trick to evade their actual subject matter. The real issue is that being cheated on, of losing "sexual control" over your partner (and that phrasing is another rhetorical trick, a way to disguise the real emotional structure of the desire for fidelity as, instead, some sort of patriarchal construct), is /subjectively/ devastating. It /does/ make you feel diminished as a person. It /does/ make you feel "worth less" -- which is, in fact, essentially the message semaphored by your partner deciding to seek satisfaction elsewhere than you. It is a terrible feeling to be told -- explicitly, or even more horribly, implicitly -- that you are not enough for your partner.

This isn't about sexist, fascist, or racist(???) language. It's not a fiction concocted by the far right. It's about the emotional realities of being a human being -- not some fantasy caricature.


You're right, my phrasing re: "sexual control" is rhetorically unfair, and you're right that it is a horrible thing for those who experience a loss of fidelity with their partner.

But I'm not talking about people who have actually been cheated on. I'm talking about the use of the term as a generic insult, which, if you feel so strongly about how subjectively awful it is, I think you should agree is a petty way to weaponize the term, which is what the alt-right does by calling everyone who they perceive as being weak or having been defeated a "cuck".


I'm sympathetic to your point. But ultimately I gotta disagree with the premise of your argument -- specifically, that the misery of being a cuckold makes the use of the term "cuck" unacceptable. Much to the contrary, I think that it makes the term /suitable/ for many situations -- situations that are, in some way, emotionally analogous. I'm hesitant to make this claim unequivocally -- I can see arguing that the mechanics of the use of the term "cuck" exceed mere metaphor in objectionable ways -- but I think that the ability to speak directly to emotional reality supersedes any such argument.

For the record, I'm not defending the alt-right in any capacity. They're loathsome fascists. And that's key -- the problem is the content of their positions, not the language in which they're expressed.




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