Facebook discretely fields China photo-sharing app

Angelica Greene
August 12, 2017

Facebook, which, as its program blocked in China to bypass censorship released app without their logo and name.

Facebook approved the May debut of a photo-sharing app, called Colourful Balloons, in China, according to a person with knowledge of the company's plans, who declined to be named because the matter is politically sensitive.

Colorful Balloons looks and operates nearly exactly like the Moments app, except without any mention of Facebook, so much so that it could easily be considered a local clone. But by Facebook showing such eagerness, China presumably knows they have the upper hand, allowing it to force wishful, foreign tech companies to capitulate to their demands.

The covert, and perhaps creative, tactics conducted to achieve a long-sought goal exemplifies Facebook's (and the larger USA tech community's) desire to be accepted by China.

Facebook has always been keen to find a way into mainland China, where the social network has been banned since 2009.

The app was released in China by a company called Youge Internet Technology, according to a post in Apple's app store.

The Times says it illustrates the "desperation" of tech firms as they attempt - exhaustively - to break into China's online market.

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However, the company's documents used for registering it, listed a room number of its office that was not found amidst several small, shabby offices on the fourth floor of the building.

Facebook had to use audacious methods to circumvent the obstacles the Chinese government imposes.

Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook has made it a big point of having meetings with politicians in China, studying the propaganda of the Communist Party, Mandarin and even talking it while in public. In the photo, she was sitting beside Wang-Li Moser an executive with Facebook. Zhang's presence at such a high-level meeting indicated she is likely a Facebook adviser or employee. The app, though, will reportedly not carry the Facebook label.

The app has been created to collate photos from the photo albums of smartphones and share them.

While photos can be shared, Facebook appears to have taken steps to ensure the app could not spread widely.

The risk Facebook is taking with the new app is high.

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