Facebook has allegedly bypassed a block put in place by the Chinese government by launching a photo-sharing application in the country under another name – Colorful Balloons. While the company hasn't officially commented on the reports, that's according to sources claiming to be close to the company. Despite the silence from Facebook, the company has previously expressed a deep interest in China. Specifically, Facebook's interest lies in "helping Chinese business owners and developers expand to new markets outside of China" through its ad platform. That's a goal shared by the majority of players in the Internet industry due to the population of the country, which is currently the largest in the world, but one which has been difficult to achieve.
While some other companies, such as Google and Nokia, have made some progress in winning over the Chinese government or at least getting their services launched there, Facebook has been disallowed in the country for around 8 years – since 2009. More recently, as of mid-July, even the exceedingly popular Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been partially blocked in China. It bears repeating that Facebook has not spoken out to either confirm or deny that it is, in fact, behind the release of the new photo-sharing app in question. However, if true, it could actually present problems for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with regard to his continuing appeals to Chinese authorities as he tries to get the country's leadership on board with letting Facebook in.
That's particularly true since the Chinese government has been cracking down on social media and messaging services specifically, both in the past and presently. Company's and services banned have included Kakao Talk, Line, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and many others. As to the reason for the crackdowns, it has been speculated that they may have to do with the current ruling party in China. More directly, it could come down government's inability to monitor services for perceived misuse due to encryption methods used by the providers of those services, since those services using encryption seem to be more likely to be disallowed. Colorful Balloons, for the time being at least, may have managed to make it past the blockade. With that said, there's no telling how long it will remain available for users with the news now breaking that it may have been a Facebook app in disguise.