Internet freedom is getting worse, and that's bad news for Facebook

Global internet freedom is on the decline. According to a November report released by nonprofit Freedom House, 2016 marked the sixth consecutive year where governments around the world collectively tightened their grip on citizens' internet usage.

As this chart from Statista shows, that crackdown is particularly harsh on social media and messaging apps - the likes of which could be used to coordinate protests, quickly inform the public of injustices, and generally make it harder for governments to dictate the flow of information.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest of those social media companies, Facebook, has been hit the hardest. According to Freedom House's research, Facebook users have been arrested for posting political, religious, or social content in 27 nations, and the platform itself is barred altogether in eight. Facebook-owned WhatsApp has faced similar restrictions.Advertisement

This seems to have created a conflict of business. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Facebook was internally testing a censorship tool that could be used to persuade China to enable the social media site in its massive, untapped market. According to Freedom House, China was the worst abuser of internet freedom in 2016.  

social media censorship chart