Facebook launches "secret" app to dodge the bans in China

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It's called Colorful Balloons, and it looks and functions like Facebook's Moments app.

Western social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked by China's censors, which has helped drive up the popularity of home-grown messaging app WeChat, owned by Tencent and microblogging service Weibo.

Facebook has finally managed to sneak into China.

Facebook has found a new way to enter China: secretly launching an app under a different name. The app collates pictures from a mobile device's photo albums and allows users to share them with a QR code.

The release of such an app, that is, one from a company with ties to Facebook, has never happened before, save for WhatsApp, which China recently put an end to. The country boastfully holds 700 million internet users which make the country more lucrative to the global tech corporations.

In a statement to the Times, Facebook did not confirm or deny its involvement with Colorful Balloons.

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"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.

It's no secret how badly Facebook wants to take on the Chinese market.

Colorful Balloons was released early this year through a separate Chinese company, the New York Times reported.

Facebook CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg has made high-profile visits to China and met with political leaders there, and is even studying Mandarin.

But like a lot of US companies, Facebook has had a hard time breaking through China's onerous digital censorship laws.

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