Facebook denies desires to buy Chinese social network

Company says "no acquisition of any company in China is being considered by Facebook," countering a report in The Times about a potential Zhanzuo buy.

This post was updated at 12:12 PM PT to provide comment from Facebook.

Facebook is denying a report that it is chasing after Chinese social network Zhanzuo.com.

According to a Monday report in The Times, Facebook offered $85 million for Zhanzuo, which has about 7 million active users. (Facebook has slightly more than 50 million, about 100,000 of which are in China, according to The Times.)

While the newspaper cited a Facebook spokeswoman in reporting that Zhanzuo CEO Jack Zhang is "acquainted" with Mark Zuckerberg and that "there could be more information by the end of the month," a Facebook representative on Monday afternoon denied to CNET News.com that any such offer exists.

"No offer has been made, and no acquisition of any company in China is being considered by Facebook," the representative wrote in an e-mail. "We do not know who the spokeperson is that they are referring to in The Times story and were never contacted by the paper to confirm the accuracy of this story."

So far, Facebook's only major acquisition has been Parakey, a start-up founded by the creators of the Firefox browser. But rumors have circulated for weeks that the Mark Zuckerberg-founded company has been looking to expand into languages other than English , and international acquisitions are one way that Facebook could tackle that strategy.

An acquisition, additionally, would give Facebook a foothold in a market that has been politically difficult for many U.S. companies to enter. Yahoo recently came under government scrutiny over its role in providing information that landed two Chinese journalists in jail.

A Chinese Facebook would not be without competition. Facebook's chief rival, MySpace.com, launched a Chinese-language version of its site in 2006. (MySpace is owned by News Corp., which also owns The Times.) And social-networking site Friendster, which has consistently lost ground to Facebook and MySpace in the United States, has made surprising inroads in Asia; earlier this fall, Friendster launched a Chinese version of its site .

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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