Facebook secretly enters China's online market via local firm

Facebook secretly enters China's online market via local firm”

Facebook has long eyed China's more than 700 million internet users, who now use homegrown social networks including Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat.

App for sharing photos entitled Colorful Balloons for functions and appearance very similar to another company's product Facebook - Moments.

Colorful Balloons looks and operates nearly exactly like the Moments app, except without any mention of Facebook, so much so that it could easily be considered a local clone.

"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 Friday in an email response to an AFP inquiry.

Google, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook are among Silicon Valley stars not allowed to operate on China's tightly controlled internet. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has made repeated attempts to woo Chinese authorities, learning Mandarin and touting a book by President Xi Jinping.

Facebook has also experimented with getting back into China by creating a censorship tool that automatically suppresses certain posts in specific geographic areas, The New York Times reported back in November. It quoted someone close to the matter who did not want to be identified, citing the political sensitivity of the situation.

In a bid to explore the high-potential Chinese online market, Facebook has authorised the release of a new app here that does not carry its name. This could help explain the quiet approach.

China, the world's largest market by internet users, is an attractive but challenging region for internet companies.

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