Mark Zuckerberg on Great Wall of China
Zuckerberg standing on the Great Wall of China in March


has finally managed to sneak into China.

The social network has been secretly testing a photo sharing app
called Colorful Balloons in the country,
The New York Times reported
on Friday.

Facebook has been officially blocked in China since 2009, and
parts of WhatsApp’s service
were recently blocked
within the country’s borders. CEO Mark
Zuckerberg has courted Chinese officials for years, and even
spent one year learning to speak Mandarin.

Paul Mozur of The New York Times recently unearthed the app
Colorful Balloons in Apple’s Chinese App Store and noticed how
similar it looked to Facebook’s existing photo sharing app,
Moments. Mozur then connected the seemingly-fake company name
behind the app to a woman
who appeared in a photo
of a meeting between Facebook and the
Chinese government.

12FACEBOOKCHINA5 master675
Color Balloons (left)
looks a like like Facebook’s Moments photo sharing app

Screenshot / The New York

When Business Insider asked Facebook to confirm whether it was
behind Colorful Balloons, a representative sent the
following statement and declined to comment further:

“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are
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.”

China, the world’s largest market by internet users, is an
attractive but challenging region for internet
companies. Google famously shut down its China search engine in
2010, arguing that the country’s censorship rules were too
onerous and blaming the country for recent hacking attacks it had

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
. Facebook has never confirmed the
existence of the tool.

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