After being blocked for years behind the formidable Great Firewall, Facebook is trying to sneak around the barrier with a new app.
The American social media giant has discreetly developed a new photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons (彩色气球), releasing it through a local Chinese company with none of its own branding attached, according to a report from the New York Times.
Apparently, Facebook’s goal in the project is learning more about how apps become successful in China. Colorful Balloons has features similar to that of Facebook’s Moments app, but, so far, it hasn’t had much success. Quartz notes that the New York Times story only managed to push the app up to 758th overall in the Chinese app store where it has just 52 reviews despite being out for months.
At least now they know what will not work.
“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways,” a Facebook representative said in response to the NYT report. “Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform.”
For years, Facebook has been looking for a way back into China. Mark Zuckerberg has been paying frequent visits to China and meeting with some top government officials while working on his Mandarin and taking morning jogs around Tiananmen Square. Meanwhile, Facebook has also been quietly developing a censorship tool to please the Chinese government.
Of course, this comes at a time when Beijing is reinforcing the strength of its Great Firewall, cracking down on VPNs. Last month, Apple kowtowed to China’s wishes and removed foreign VPN apps from its China App Store. Meanwhile, China’s domestic social media networks are also starting to come under increased scrutiny from the Net Nanny.
[Images via The Paper]
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