Facebook has reportedly entered the market in China, anonymously launching a new photo-sharing app earlier in the year.
According to a report, the app, dubbed Colorful Balloons, was rolled out earlier in 2017 but does not include the Facebook name. Facebook confirmed over the weekend that it had launched the Chinese app. The app was released through a separate company based in China.
Since 2009, Facebook has been blocked on all computers operating in China. This has paved the way for social media such as WeChat, QQ and Weibo to gain speed in the race to the top. Without entry into the Chinese market, Facebook is losing the opportunity to gain followers from the country’s population of nearly 1.37 billion people. “Obviously you can’t have a mission of wanting to connect everyone in the world and leave out the biggest country,” Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts in 2015. “Over the long term, that is a situation [where] we will need to figure out a way forward.” In late 2015, there was a small window of hope for the social media giant to engage with China. The country offered Facebook a license to open representative offices, with one minor caveat: The lease was for a three-month period. Rather than take its chances and invest time in sending employees over to work for three months with the Chinese government, Facebook declined and refocused its efforts on other ways to penetrate the market.
It seems as though Facebook wants an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to making itself a fixture in Chinese social media. Since 2009, Facebook has tried various approaches to ascertain what it wants to be — a dominant player in the Chinese social realm. These efforts include pursuing Chinese officials, significantly raising the presence of Zuckerberg, hiring a China policy chief and taking steps toward Communist-friendly software development.