Facebook has developed a censorship tool that could persuade China to allow the social media network to re-enter the world's second largest economy after a seven-year ban, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The software suppresses posts from appearing in people's news feeds in specific geographies, the newspaper said, citing unnamed current and former employees.
Zuckerberg in March met China's propaganda tsar Liu Yunshan who said that he hoped Facebook could strengthen exchanges and improve mutual understanding with China's internet companies, according to state news agency Xinhua.
"We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country," Facebook said.
"However, we have not made any decision on our approach to China. Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform."
Though Facebook has developed the new tool, it does not intend to suppress the posts itself, NYT said. The company would instead offer the software to enable a third party to monitor popular stories and topics that gain visibility as users share them across the network, according to the Times. The third party partner would have full control to decide whether those posts should show up in users' feeds.
There is no indication Facebook has offered the software to the authorities in China, the Times said.
China's military newspaper calls the internet the most important front in an ideological battle against "Western anti-China forces."