Facebook has quietly launched a new photo sharing service dubbed Colorful Balloons in China, where the network is presently banned.
Facebook is on a mission to connect the entire world, and sometimes an ultra-conservative government can impede progress. So, in a means of bypassing its official ban within China, Facebook has now quietly debuted Colorful Balloons – a no-name brand take on its Moments app.
Moments, of course, is the photo sharing and sync app Facebook promotes as a means to collectivize group photos from time spent with friends – and Colorful Balloons offers the same functionality for Chinese users. Read: Facebook launches Watch; a new home for original video content
Rather than interact directly with Facebook’s core services or WhatsApp (both of which are banned in China) Colorful Balloons integrates with China’s own major social network – WeChat. The New York Times cites that Facebook’s ambition with Colorful Balloons is to “see how Chinese users digitally share information with their friends or interact with their favorite social media platforms.”
Facebook, similarly, offered to The Verge that it is “spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways. Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform.”
Given that Facebook has released Colorful Balloons under the name Youge Internet Technology, the bid likely makes for one of the most overt (and yet, subversive) moves by an international internet giant to trial how its core apps and services are used in China without leveraging its own name and brand presence in the process.
The undertaking is, at least, a considered decision that will likely provide Facebook with insights into how the Chinese web economy functions. Other western technology companies, such as Uber and Apple, have faced difficulty in bringing their key offerings to the market. Read: Facebook is reportedly developing a smartphone, smart speaker for video chat
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Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA