Science

Facebook tests the waters in China with stealth app

Facebook tests the waters in China with stealth app

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.

The report claims Facebook might be trying a new way to get into China: by giving the greenlight for a local company to release a new app that doesn't share Facebook's name.

The app is named Colorful Balloons, and is similar to Facebook's Moments.

But like a lot of US companies, Facebook has had a hard time breaking through China's onerous digital censorship laws.




China, the world's largest market by internet users, is an attractive but challenging region for internet companies. "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.

"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 spokesperson for Facebook told Reuters. The under-the-table approach could cause Facebook new difficulties with a Chinese government that has maintained strict oversight and control over foreign tech companies.

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

"Colorful Balloons can group users' phone pictures and videos based on time, locations and characters". Facebook released the app through a local company called Youge Internet Technology, without any hint of branding from the social media giant, and appears to have taken efforts to ensure that it doesn't spread widely. The new app is a bit different from Moments, which connects users through Facebook.