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12 August 2017, 11:10 | Opal Carroll
Breaking the Precedents, Facebook Quietly Launched an App in China
"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. Paul Mozur of TheNYT was able to detect the clandestine, worldwide business maneuver by comparing Facebook's Moments app to the one being tested in China.
"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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It's not clear if China's internet regulators are aware of Colorful Balloons' connection to Facebook. It shows the desperation - and frustration - of global tech companies as they try to break into the world's largest online market.
The app was released in China by a company called Youge Internet Technology and without any hint that Facebook is affiliated with the company, the Times said, citing a post in Apple's app store.
The secretive approach of launching the app could cause additional difficulties for Facebook with the government of China that maintains strict oversight as well as control over tech companies outside China. Zhang's presence at such a high-level meeting indicated she is likely a Facebook adviser or employee. In the rest of the world, the company's Moments app connects users through Facebook.
The app has been created to collate photos from the photo albums of smartphones and share them. 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.
Colorful Balloons was released early this year through a separate Chinese company, according to the New York Times.
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