Dissent

China censors HBO's website after John Oliver mocks Xi Jinping

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After HBO’s John Oliver mocked Chinese President Xi Jinping and China’s human rights record last week, internet users in China were blocked from accessing HBO’s website over the weekend, per The New York Times.

The trend: Xi has long been trying to control what he sees as traditional Chinese values through web site and social media censorship in an effort to avoid social unrest. And this isn’t Oliver’s first time has been hit by China's strict controls — last week, Chinese authorities blocked all mentions of his name on Weibo, China’s Twitter.

China is not having Facebook's efforts to get social

Matt Rourke / AP

Mark Zuckerberg has been lobbying since 2009 to get China to allow his social networking service back into the country, but it's probably not going anywhere, per the WSJ.

The bottom line: Efforts to soften China — such as hiring Chinese employees, using tech that's acceptable to the ruling Communist Party and learning Mandarin — aren't breaking down the barriers. Meanwhile social media brands in China, such as Weibo and Tencent Holding's WeChat and QQ, are already dominating the scene.

Why the Chinese blockage matters: There are 700 million internet users in China, making it an enormous potential growth area. The growth prospects in the U.S. are slowing as the company's ad revenues are possibly peaking: it boasted an 84% share of industry ad revenues in the third quarter of last year, per a WSJ report.

What to watch: Facebook will announce its earnings this Wednesday. Look for signs of growth with its Messenger app, Oculus VR headset, WhatsApp, or Instagram — since China isn't on its list of growth markets (at least for now).