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12 August 2017, 08:22 | Casey Mitchell
Image Schiefelbein AP REX Shutterstock
The social network has been secretly testing a photo sharing app called Colourful Balloons in the country, The New York Times reported on Friday.
Desperate to break into the Chinese market, Facebook has discreetly developed and rolled out a photo-sharing app called "Colorful Balloons".
The secretive approach of launching the app could cause additional difficulties for Facebook with the government of China that maintains strict oversight as well as control over tech companies outside China. "Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside of China by using our ad platform."Chinese authorities have recently ramped up censorship of social media and messaging platforms, partially blocking Facebook-owned WhatsApp last month".
Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg has made a big point of meeting with Chinese politicians, studying Communist Party propaganda, Mandarin and even speaking it in public.
China is the largest online market in the works.
"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 spokesperson said by email.
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It is not clear whether internet regulators in China were aware of the existence of the app.
However, the company's documents used for registering it, listed a room number of its office that was not found amidst several small, shabby offices on the fourth floor of the building.
The director of the company, a woman named Zhang Jingmei, appeared in a photo of a meeting between Facebook and the Shanghai government, sitting next to Facebook executive Wang-Li Moser, indicating she is likely associated with the company, the report added. For example, people who post photos from Colorful Balloons on WeChat will see a link that lets other users download Facebook's Chinese app.
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