Despite multiple roadblocks and facing bans in the past, Facebook appears to be not giving up on China – a country with over a 700 million Internet users where the social network has been banned since 2009. Multiple reports now claim that the networking giant has discreetly launched a photo-sharing app in China called Colorful Balloons.
Notably, the company covertly launched the app with the aid of a Chinese company called Youge Internet Technology, without the Facebook-branding being attached. A NewYork Times report confirms that Facebook made this rather conspicuous move of creating the photo-sharing app and released it with the help of a local Chinese Internet company, without showing any signs that the app is indeed Facebook’s creation.
Colorful Balloons is an app that’s strikingly similar to Facebook’s Moments app, which essentially allows users to share photos with friends and family.
That said, the rollout of the app in China doesn’t appear to be Facebook’s attempt to secretly launch another social networking app in China. Instead, reports suggest the inititiative is the company’s way of trying to gauge how Chinese users share information with their freinds and interact via popular social media platforms.
“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 in statement.
Facebook has long been try to infiltrate mainland China, where the social network has been banned since 2009. Thanks to rigid Interet protocols in the country, many Silicon Valley giants including the likes of Google, Twitter, and others are not allowed to operate in China.
And it appears things are getting from bad to worse, as Facebook-owned WhatsApp was partially blocked in China in July. Sources reported that WhatsApp has been made partially inaccessible by Chinese authorities, as many users were not able to send photos and videos. In fact, some users reported on other social media platforms that they were not even able to send messages.
The latest disruption of WhatsApp comes following a major censorship crackdown in the country, commonly known as the ‘Great Firewall’ – China’s way of tightening controls over the Internet.