Facebook discretely fields China photo-sharing app

August 12, 2017
Facebook has long been eager to find a way into mainland China, where the social network has been banned since 2009

Facebook's interest in China has led it to discreetly create a photo-sharing application released there without the social network's brand being attached.

"We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways," a Facebook representative said Friday in an email response to an AFP inquiry.

"Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform."

A source close to the matter confirmed a New York Times report on Friday that Facebook took the unusual step of creating an app called Colorful Balloons and releasing it through a local with no hint that the social network was involved.

Colorful Balloons has features similar to Facebook's Moments application.

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

Google, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook are among Silicon Valley stars not allowed to operate on China's tightly controlled internet.

Facebook chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has made high-profile visits to China and met with political leaders there, and is even studying Mandarin.

Colorful Balloons was released early this year through a separate Chinese company, according to the New York Times. It quoted someone close to the matter who did not want to be identified, citing the political sensitivity of the situation.

Facebook is interested in learning how apps win fans in China, without having a prominent company name associated with it. This could help explain the quiet approach.

Having a company in China distribute the application can be more efficient due to local business connections and familiarity with local rules.

Explore further: Censorship tool built as Facebook eyes China: report

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rrrander
not rated yet Aug 13, 2017
Wow. Yahoo, Facebook, etc., kissing Chinese gov't backside, going along with their censorship, helping to turn in citizens to security forces. Disgusting.
jvhinaz
not rated yet Aug 13, 2017
thats DISCREETLY dammit

"in an intentionally unobtrusive manner." NOT "separately and individually."
Dingbone
not rated yet Aug 16, 2017
The Facebook originally started as a (personal) photo-sharing application even in USA (after all, as its name implies). There were already way better collaborative platforms at the market - they just lacked the Facebook/CourseMatch/Facemash feature - the sharing of personal photos. Ironically even Goggle and another Facebook followers missed this substantial component of success, which targets the narcissistic trait of people - and they failed at the market one after another, because they didn't understand, what the Facebook is actually about. Zuckerberg is often described as a typical nerdy personality separated from emotional reality - but IMO it's not accidental, that what he studied at Harward was psychology - not computer science.

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