Rumor has it that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is working to convince Chinese government authorities to lift the ban on his social networking site. Or he's at least researching the possibilities.
RedOrbit reports Zuckerberg had a private lunch with Baidu chief Robin Li Monday. Pictures of the meeting were leaked on the Web, and a Baidu spokesperson confirmed the two did have lunch. Topics of discussion remain unclear, but the Guardian's Jonathan Watts suggests they may be planning to "cross the divide."
RedOrbit quotes Baidu spokesperson Kaiser Kuo this way:
It makes sense-he is interested in the Chinese Internet, he's made that very plain. Obviously this is one of the big dark spots for Facebook because it is blocked here in China. He has had a long-standing interest in China. I'm sure he wants to get the advice of someone who knows the Internet landscape well here.
I would hope Facebook is also looking to Google for advice on dealing with China, given the ups and downs Eric Schmidt and crew have had in the country. I can't imagine Zuckerberg, who is all about pushing the envelope when it comes to privacy and sharing, will simply bow to pressure from the government censors about what can and cannot be posted.
Buckle your seatbelts. If that's really what Zuckerberg's lunch at Baidu was about, the ride ahead is sure to be bumpy at best.