Facebook Seems To Sneak App Into China In Unprecedented Move, Says Report

Facebook Seems To Sneak App Into China In Unprecedented Move, Says Report

Facebook Seems To Sneak App Into China In Unprecedented Move, Says Report

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 company with no hint that the social network was involved. The app, called Colorful Balloons, is similar to Facebook's Moments application in function and feel, but does not carry the Facebook name.

The stealthy and anonymous release of an app by a major foreign technology company in China is unprecedented.

The covert, and perhaps creative, tactics conducted to achieve a long-sought goal exemplifies Facebook's (and the larger US tech community's) desire to be accepted by China. "It also highlights how far they are willing to go, and their recognition of the idea that the standards for working in China differ from other countries", write the journalists.

Facebook has always been keen to find a way into mainland China, where the social network has been banned since 2009. Released by a company named Youge Internet Technology, Colorful Balloons has not been reported in any form since The Times picked it up, and there's fear that China might now take notice and implement appropriate action.

It was unclear if China's various internet regulators were aware of the app's existence, the Times said.

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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. Videos of him speaking Mandarin have gone viral, as did a photo of him jogging on a dangerously smoggy day through Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The company's director is Zhang Jingmei. Colorful Balloons instead links users through China's biggest social network, WeChat. And it appears the country has been vamping up their already frequent censorship initiatives even more so recently.

In 2009, Chinese authorities banned Facebook in China, followed by Instagram its app for photo-sharing in 2014, and WhatsApp its messaging app was partially banned just last month.

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

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