Facebook may be banned in China since 2009, but that doesn’t mean that the social networking company has given up on its hopes of entering the country. Back in May, Facebook quietly launched a photo-sharing app in China called Colorful Balloons.
According to the New York Times, the app Colorful Balloons is made to work and feel like Facebook’s Moments app, which allow users to share photos with their friends and family. However, while Moments connects users through Facebook, Colorful Balloons links users through WeChat, China’s biggest social network. It collects photos from a smartphone’s photo album, and then shares them on WeChat through the use of a QR code.
So, how did Facebook manage to launch an app in a country where its main app has been banned? Colorful Balloons does not have any links to Facebook. It is released by a separate local company called Youge Internet Technology that does not appear to have any ties with Facebook.
According to Facebook’s statement to the New York Times, Colorful Balloons gives the company an insight to how “Chinese users digitally share information with their friends or interact with their favourite social media platforms”. It is unclear if the Chinese government is aware of the app yet, but given how quickly news report about Colorful Balloons is spreading, it’s not a surprise that they already know.
Facebook was banned from China since 2009, followed by Instagram in 2014. Just last month, China gave WhatsApp a partial ban, preventing users from sending videos, photos, and even some text-based messages. Since then, Facebook has been working hard to try to get back into the country. Last year, Facebook was reported to be working on a censorship tool that can block certain contents from Facebook News Feed.