Programmatic Lunch

Facebook has quietly launched a Moments-like app in China, bypassing censorship

Tyrone Stewart

Mark Zuckerberg ChinaFacebook has found a way to get going in China, despite being banned in the country since 2009, with the introduction of a stealthy photo-sharing app.

The app, called Colorful Balloons, looks, feels and functions in the same way as Facebook’s Moments app, reports the New York Times. However, the app has been released through a separate local company – YouGe Internet Technology – on the App Store without any trace of the social network anywhere near it.

The social network launched the app in May with the hope of getting its foot in the door of the Chinese market, and gives Facebook a chance to gauge how Chinese users engage and interact with friends over social media.

“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways,” Facebook said in a statement.

Despite this, the app hasn’t been a great success so far – which is understandable due to its quiet release. Since reports surfaced, it has enjoyed more downloads but Chinese users don’t seem to be overly impressed by the app, or by Facebook as a whole.

Facebook has taken a massive risk with the release of this app, which has seemingly been done under the noses of the Chinese government – the same government that Facebook has been trying to build a positive relationship with in recent years. If the app fails, the social network may rue its decision to take the leap.

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