Facebook tries to enter China incognito

Image Schiefelbein  AP  REX  Shutterstock

Image Schiefelbein AP REX Shutterstock

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

China's ruling Communist Party controls internet traffic across the country's borders and tries to keep the public from seeing thousands of websites including Facebook.

Colorful Balloons, which was approved by the company in May, resembles Facebook's Moments app.

Facebook and many of its apps have been blocked in China for years.

App for sharing photos entitled Colorful Balloons for functions and appearance very similar to another company's product Facebook - Moments.

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

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

"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.

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. The app collates pictures from a mobile device's photo albums and allows users to share them with a QR code. For example, people who post photos from Colorful Balloons on WeChat will see a link that lets other users download Facebook's Chinese app.

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

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