Facebook allows Moments-like app to be launched in China

Facebook allows Moments-like app to be launched in China

Facebook anonymously launched a new photo-sharing app in China in a new effort to make inroads in the world's most populous country.

The social media company's connection to the app was first reported Friday by The New York Times, which said it was released in China through a separate local company.

To hide Facebook's tracks, the app was released by a separate local company, called Youge Internet Technology, registered in eastern Beijing, leaving no traces of the social media platform's link to it.

As writes the edition, a hidden and anonymous a major foreign technology company in China is unprecedented.

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. Yet the social network was banned in China in 2009, followed by its photo-sharing app Instagram in 2014, and its messaging app WhatsApp was partially blocked last month.

"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.

The app has a few distinct features that cater to the Chinese market.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spent years courting the potentially lucrative Chinese market: He's given a talk in Mandarin and gone jogging in Tiananmen Square.

The director of the company, a woman named Zhang Jingmei, appeared in a photo of a meeting between Facebook and the Shanghai government, sitting next to Facebook executive Wang-Li Moser, indicating she is likely associated with the company, the report added.

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

Facebook is blocked in China, and so are many other US apps. The app looks eerily similar to the company's Moments app. The app collates pictures from a mobile device's photo albums and allows users to share them with a QR code. But the Facebook name is nowhere to be seen.

The risk Facebook is taking with the new app is high.

Facebook approved the release in May.

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