Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost declined to comment on recent reports from outlets ranging from NBC to Gawker, though she did say in a statement that the company is "currently studying and learning about China, as part of evaluating any possible approaches that could benefit our users, developers and advertisers.
Meanwhile, Baidu's spokesperson, Kaiser Kuo, tweeted that he also had nothing to add to the rumors: "No comment no comment no comment no comment no comment no comment no comment no comment no comment no comment no comment no fucking comment!" (And then, in a separate tweet immediately following: "PS: Have a nice day!")
The rumor has been traced to a microblog post by Hu Yanping of the Data Center of China Internet, an internet marketing company based in Beijing. Hu had previously broken the news of the Google's retreat from China, and had been considered a reliable source.
Rumors of Facebook's entry into China began late last year when CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a highly publicized trip there-which included an early stop at Baidu to meet with its CEO, Robin Li. But Zuckerberg-who is learning to speak Mandarin-has clearly contemplated an entry strategy into the Eastern hemisphere for some time. In October 2010, Zuckerberg discussed his longstanding interest in China at YCombinator's Startup School. He noted that "China is extremely complex" and an important market Facebook. "How can you connect the whole world if you leave out 1.6 billion people?" he said.