Facebook secretly launches photo-sharing app Colorful Balloons in China

Joanna Estrada
August 13, 2017

Facebook isn't welcome in China, but that hasn't stopped the social media giant from managing to establish presence one way or another.

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

Colorful Balloons looks and operates nearly exactly like the Moments app, except without any mention of Facebook, so much so that it could easily be considered a local clone. However, tech companies are incessantly striving to get into China.

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.

Facebook has always been interested to enter into China, where the social network has been banned since 2009.

The app, which is created to collate photos from a smartphone's photo albums and then share them, was released by a local company called Youge Internet Technology, which is registered to an address in eastern Beijing, without any hint of affiliation with Facebook.

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

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.

It's no secret how badly Facebook wants to take on the Chinese market.

Facebook chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has made high-profile visits to China and met with political leaders there, and is even studying Mandarin.

Facebook declined to comment on Zhang's relationship to the company, and Zhang did not respond to phone calls requesting comment. The app, though, will reportedly not carry the Facebook label. For example, people who post photos from Colorful Balloons on WeChat will see a link that lets other users download Facebook's Chinese app.

It appears this was far more than a knockoff app, however. But the link does not work, meaning people have to seek out Colorful Balloons in an app store instead of grabbing it from their friends, which may limit its distribution.

Facebook approved the release in May.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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