Facebook secretly launched a mobile app in China

Facebook allows Moments-like app to be launched in China

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.

The New York Times reports Facebook was behind the May launch of a Chinese app called Colorful Balloons, which lets users share pictures on social media.

Facebook and other major tech firms have been shunned from China for many years thanks to the country's strict censorship laws, often referred to as the Great Firewall. It shows the desperation - and frustration - of global tech companies as they try to break into the world's largest online market.

It's unclear whether Chinese regulators were aware of the app, and it could muddy up the waters even further between tech companies and the country.

"We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways", Facebook said.

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

However, the room number listed in company registration documents could not be found amid a series of shabby, small offices on the building's fourth floor. Zhang's presence at such a high-level meeting indicated she is likely a Facebook adviser or employee.

Instead, a company called "Youge LLC" is credited as the creator.

Colorful Balloons was released early this year through a separate Chinese company, the New York Times reported. The app looks eerily similar to the company's Moments app. However, it seems like Facebook is trying to make sure the app doesn't spread photos widely, which could be a way to keep the project under the radar.

Facebook approved the release in May.

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