Facebook was recently caught with its hands in the proverbial cookie jar when the New York Times uncovered that they released an app in secret in China. The app is called Colorful Balloons and served as a Chinese equivalent to the U.S. app Moments. However, since Facebook currently is not allowed in China, the app uses the Chinese social media site, WeChat. Facebook’s involvement with the app was discovered when the two apps (Moments and Colorful Balloons) logos were recognized as being strikingly similar.
It’s no secret that Facebook has been trying to get into China for quite some time now. Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly learned Mandarin, and has made multiple visits to the country. In a statement made to the New York Times, Facebook wrote, “We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways…”
In hopes of reaching China’s over 700 million internet users, Facebook released the app through a company on iTunes called Youge Internet Technology.
The Chinese market has been elusive to most social media companies due to the country’s strict censorship laws. And with China becoming an increasingly important international market as time goes by, companies such as Facebook are itching to get in on the growing user base.
And it appears that the Chinese people want access to such sites. Many residents use virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around censorship blocks, although the government has been cracking down on VPNs recently.
Previous reports from the New York Times have stated that Facebook is working on creating a censorship tool that will allow the social network to be brought to China while still following the country’s strict censorship laws.