Facebook Attempts to Enter China Unnoticed
The app is Colorful Balloons and is for photo-sharing. It shares the look, function as well as feel of the Moments app from Facebook, showed a report in a national newspaper on Saturday.
The app has been designed to collate photos from the photo albums of smartphones and share them. It was released through a local Chinese company known as Youge Internet Technology. The company is registered in Beijing and with no trace of affiliation with U.S. based Facebook.
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.
The company’s director is Zhang Jingmei. She appeared in a photo taken at a meeting held between officials at Facebook and the government of Shanghai. In the photo, she was sitting beside Wang-Li Moser an executive with Facebook.
That indicates she likely is associated with the social media giant.
Neither she nor Facebook issued any statement regarding the possibility of a partnership between the two.
It is not clear whether internet regulators in China were aware of the existence of the app.
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.
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.
Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook has made it a big point of having meetings with politicians in China, studying the propaganda of the Communist Party, Mandarin and even talking it while in public.
Internet censorship in China has left big companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook out of the enormously large Chinese market that has an audience of over 700 million users on internet.
In July, a major crackdown started on the different services online by the Chinese government. Apple was required to remove all its VPN apps from its China based App Store.
Earlier this week, Chinese officials announced they are probing social media sites WeChat and Weibo amongst others for not following policy related to censorship and content.