China has stonewalled Facebook service for roughly six years. Recent signs—such as Facebook's budding relationships with Chinese technology companies and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's display of fluent Mandarin during a question-and-answer session at China's top engineering college—suggest the social media giant could be setting pieces in place to develop a Chinese product, Lessin said.
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"They're clearly accelerating their efforts there," she said.
Facebook in China may take a variety of forms. It could implement a version of the traditional site compliant with Chinese law or build "less sensitive" new or hybrid products that incorporate properties like WhatsApp, Lessin said.
She added that Facebook could potentially make a play in the gaming sphere.
"It is a multiproduct company and I think they're going to use that and those tools to their disposal to get there," Lessin said.
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Whatever form it takes, Facebook's product would need to comply with government regulations. Foreign Internet and technology companies are "not a huge focus" for the Chinese government, Lessin noted. Officials have given no sign that they would loosen their stance in the near future, she added.
Facebook declined to comment on any potential product development in China.