Facebook 'signs' independent social network deal with Baidu

Put the needle on the record

Facebook has reportedly inked a deal with Baidu to build a social network for the People's Republic.

According to the report, anonymous sources at China's biggest search engine outfit claimed an agreement had been reached following a number of meetings between Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and Baidu CEO Robin Li.

Bloomberg reported on the story this morning, citing Sohu.com.

If the report is accurate, Facebook has in effect agreed to build a standalone or independent version of its hugely popular social networking site for Chinese people.

It's not clear at this stage when such a website will be created by the two firms. Such a joint venture would also need to be approved by the Chinese government.

Presumably such a joint venture type entity would be fully compliant with Beijing's political outlook, while giving Zuckerberg a degree of cover from the sort of grief US campaigners and politicians gave Google over it's China adventures.

Bloomberg understands that talks between Facebook and would-be partners in China had already taken place late last year when Zuckerberg visited the country on a mixed business/holiday trip. As of last week, the news wire said no deal had yet been struck and that discussions were still at an "exploratory stage".

Facebook gave Bloomberg this statement just last week: "We are currently studying and learning about China, as part of evaluating any possible approaches that could benefit our users, developers and advertisers." ®

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