Facebook has quietly authorized the release of a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons in China, reported The New York Times. However, the world’s leading social networking site and many of its apps have been banned in China for many years due to the Chinese government controlling internet traffic across the country’s borders and trying to keep the public from accessing thousands of overseas websites and Web services.
Facebook obviously doesn’t want to give up the world’s largest online market, even at the cost of underscoring the lengths it is willing to go and accepting the operation standards that exclusively applies to the China market.
The app Colorful Balloons is designed to collate photos from smartphones' photo albums and then share them with users' friends and family members. Therefore most people tend to regard it as the Chinese version of Facebook’s Moments app. Instead of carrying the Facebook name and connecting to users through Facebook social media platform, Colorful Balloons works with the biggest social network in China—WeChat, to share photos with the use of a QR code, which is a mainstream kind of bar code that is used by the apps in the country.
In order to remove any hint of branding information associated with the social media giant, Facebook has handed a fully functioning product of Colorful Balloons to Youge Internet Technology for release. The company also took efforts to make sure the app doesn’t spread widely. The rollout is more likely to be an unprecedented attempt for Facebook to understand the way of Chinese users digitally sharing information with others or interacting with popular social media platforms, rather than an effort to release a social network under the radar.
Another news report from The Verge also describes the initiative of Facebook as a way to spend time learning as well as understanding more about China in different aspects. The company currently is aiming at helping both Chinese businesses and developers accelerate the expansion of new markets outside China through its ad platform.
Whether China’s internet regulators have noticed the existence of Coloful Balloons still remains a question. But a number of respondents take negative attitudes towards this under-the-table approach. Considering the strict-ever oversight and control over foreign tech companies maintained by Chinese government, the secretive launch of Colorful Balloons is believed to cause Facebook new difficulties with the Chinese official. (Please refer to Chinese ISPs Are Told To Block Personal VPNs By February 2018 for more information.)
Just as a professor of strategic management at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business said that, “It is more a politic thing than a business.”