Facebook drops Taiwan from country list? (No.)

Update: Please see the comment from the blogger below. This is a non-story based on a false premise. Sorry for posting about it.
Update 2: The blogger who’s post started
this story says it is not a non-issue. See the comments.

According to this somewhat flippant but interesting article by a reporter based in Taiwan, “Facebook seems to have dropped China-rival Taiwan from its alphabetical drop-down menu of member countries for FB support problems….”

I don’t know if this is true, and if it is I’d like to know whether it was always this way or if the change was recent. The author seems to believe this was done because Mark Zuckerberg is about to depart for a long trip to China, where he hopes to make his case for greater openness. (For context about Zuckerberg’s trip, go here.) Facebook, of course, is blocked in China.

Back to the disappearance of Taiwan from the drop-down menu:

While Facebook is banned inside Communist China, it does have free reign in democratic Taiwan, where internet censors do not control the net and thousands of happy Facebook fans are busy updating their walls and playing Farmville. In fact, Facebook pages are wildly popular on Isla Formosa with both local residents and expat residents.

But the other day, when a Yankee expat with a regular Facebook account tried to log on, he was notified by an automatic FB message that he needed to send his cellphone number by a secure route to Facebook HQ, where a four digit code would be sent to him by text message.

The gentleman was asked to go to a drop-down list of countries on Facebook to find the country he was in, and then send his international cellphone number to FB HQ. He had run into similar security issues in the past with Google and his Gmail accounts, and never had any trouble finding “Taiwan” on the list that Google sent him.

On scrolling through the drop-down list that FB had supplied, our friendly expat couldn’t find “Taiwan” anywhere. He looked again. Of course, there was no ”China” since China is not part of the FB Empire. But there was no ‘Taiwan” either.

How could that be? He looked again, from A to Z. Nada. No “Taiwan”.

Under the “T” section, there was one nation listed: ”Thailand”. But no ”Taiwan”.

He searched again, but no ”Taiwan”, no UN-sanctioned “Chinese Taipei” and no China-sanctioned “Taiwan, China” or “Taiwan, Province of China.” Taiwan simply did not appear at all.

Stumped, he emailed the folks at Facebook. There has been no reply as of press. He also emailed Mark Zuckerberg’s personal email account. No reply….

Surely, not listing “Taiwan” on the drop-down listings on Facebook’s help and support pages is a mere sloppy oversight, and was not done to slight Taiwan, where millions of fans are FB members, chatting away in English, Chinese and Japanese, among other languages.

Mark? You there? Ever heard of Taiwan? Nice country just south of Japan, east of China, north of the Philippines? You might want to add its name to your drop-down support list of countries.

Again, I can’t verify this, but it doesn’t sound impossible. I remember the controversy when Google Maps listed Taiwan not as a country but as a province of China.

Zuckerberg’s is married to a woman girlfriend is of Chinese descent and has been studying Mandarin in preparation for the trip, according to the reporter. Exactly what he hopes to accomplish there remains to be seen.

Businesses come here for a billion customers, but Zuckerberg says he’s offering openness. The authorities aren’t totally sold on that, obviously. So, he’s already tweaked the channels a bit by saying in recent interviews that countries have different values and Facebook respects this, such as banning content about Nazis in Germany and pictures of Muhammad in Pakistan. He says China is “extremely complex” and he will humbly come here to listen and learn. This should appeal to Confucians.

It will be interesting to see what Zuckerberg gets out of this trip, if anything.