Facebook launches "secret" app to dodge the bans in China

Reuters

Reuters

But it has reportedly found a workaround in the form of Colorful Balloons.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spent years courting the potentially lucrative Chinese market: He's given a talk in Mandarin and gone jogging in Tiananmen Square.

Western social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked by China's censors, which has helped drive up the popularity of home-grown messaging app WeChat, owned by Tencent and microblogging service Weibo. Mozur then connected the seemingly-fake company name behind the app to a woman who appeared in a photo of a meeting between Facebook and the Chinese government. But according to The New York Times, Facebook might have found a subtle workaround to penetrating the country.

Paul Mozur of The New York Times recently unearthed the app Colourful Balloons in Apple's Chinese App Store and noticed how similar it looked to Facebook's existing photo sharing app, Moments.

Facebook approved the release in May. The release of the app could give Facebook a better understanding of the social media habits of China's 700 million internet users.

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

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

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

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