Breaking the precedents, Facebook quietly launched an app in China in May this year. It's called Colorful Balloons, and it looks and functions like Facebook's Moments app. As we said, the local company doesn't show any affiliation with Facebook.
A source close to the matter confirmed a New York Times report on Friday that Facebook took the unusual step of creating an app called Colorful Balloons and releasing it through a local company with no hint that the social network was involved.
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.
It is unclear whether China's internet regulators were aware of the app's existence. But by Facebook showing such eagerness, China presumably knows they have the upper hand, allowing it to force wishful, foreign tech companies to capitulate to their demands. The covert, and perhaps creative, tactics conducted to achieve a long-sought goal exemplifies Facebook's (and the larger USA tech community's) desire to be accepted by China.
However, the company's documents used for registering it, listed a room number of its office that was not found amidst several small, shabby offices on the fourth floor of the building. Zhang's presence at such a high-level meeting indicated she is likely a Facebook adviser or employee.
It appears this was far more than a knockoff app, however.
Facebook did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation's request for comment by time of publication. Coming just ahead of a key meeting of the Chinese Communist Party this autumn, the secretive release of Colorful Balloons could also undermine trust between the company and the Chinese government. The company is registered in Beijing and with no trace of affiliation with US based Facebook. For example, people who post photos from Colorful Balloons on WeChat will see a link that lets other users download Facebook's Chinese app.