Facebook allows Moments-like app to be launched in China

Isaac Cain
August 12, 2017

Breaking the precedents, Facebook quietly launched an app in China in May this year.

The report claims Facebook might be trying a new way to get into China: by giving the greenlight for a local company to release a new app that doesn't share Facebook's name.

Colorful Balloons has features similar to Facebook's Moments application. It was released through a separate company without any hint of Facebook's affiliation. 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. It also underscores the lengths they are willing to go, and their increasing acceptance of the idea that standards for operating in China are different from elsewhere.

Facebook has finally managed to sneak into China. The country boastfully holds 700 million internet users which make the country more lucrative to the global tech corporations.

Facebook has been formally forbidden in China since 2009, despite many attempts over the years by CEO Mark Zuckerberg to woo government officials.

And local companies have already stepped in to fill the social media void.

"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 spokesperson said by email.

It is unclear whether China's internet regulators were aware of the app's existence.

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It's no secret how badly Facebook wants to take on the Chinese market.

The Cyberspace Administration of China did not respond to a faxed request for comment. But it has reportedly found a workaround in the form of Colorful Balloons.

Colorful Balloons represents the opposite approach - one that is low profile. It is registered to an address in eastern Beijing, yet the room number listed in company registration documents could not be found amid a series of shabby, small offices on the building's fourth floor.

The company's director is Zhang Jingmei.

That indicates she likely is associated with the social media giant.

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

It appears this was far more than a knockoff app, however. The Chinese app even uses the messaging platform WeChat for connecting users in place of Facebook's network.

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