Facebook reportedly has released a mobile app in China, where the social media giant alongside other such as Google and Twitter have been banned for years.
Called Colorful Balloons, the photo-sharing app was launched in May and showed similar functions and look to Facebook’s Moments app. The app was released by a Chinese company with no known links to Facebook, reported The New York Times, which cited a source with knowledge of the matter.
Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg in recent years had met with China’s top government officials and local online personalities as part of efforts to establish business links in the local market. The US company previously said: “We have long said that we are interested in China and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country.”
China’s latest stats put its online user population at 731 million, of whom 695 million accessed the web via their mobile phones. The country’s e-commerce market in 2016 accounted for 39.2 percent of the global online market, making it the largest worldwide.
While Facebook had been banned from China since July 2009, it worked with Chinese brands and developers looking to expand outside of their domestic market through Facebook’s ad platform.
Zuckerberg had said the company’s goal “to connect everyone” could not exclude the world’s most populous nation. “Over the long term, that is a situation that we will need to try to figure out a way forward on,” he said during a quarterly earnings call.
According to The New York Times report, the developer for Colorful Balloons was listed in Apple App Store as a company called Youge Internet Technology, with a Beijing address. The app allowed users to group and share photos from their phone’s albums via a QR code.