Facebook Quietly Launches Photo Sharing App Colourful Balloons In China

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Ms. Moser’s departure, after she failed to achieve any major breakthrough in China, underscores the challenges, and setbacks, Facebook has faced as it seeks to gain entry to one of the world’s largest — and most closed off — internet markets.

Along with Mr. Zuckerberg’s high-profile appearances in China, Facebook has quietly tried numerous other strategies to gain access. The company worked internally on a tool that would allow targeted censorship, even as some employees quit over the project. The tool has thus far not been used.

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Last year, Facebook took the novel approach of releasing an app in China without putting its name to the product. Called Colorful Balloons, the app is an almost exact copy of Facebook’s own photo-sharing app Moments. Considered a sort of trial balloon to better understand the market, the app was introduced anonymously by Facebook through a separate company. It appears to be no longer available in app stores in China.

Stepping into the role of government liaison will be William Shuai, a former government relations executive at the Chinese search engine Baidu and the American social network LinkedIn. Before holding those positions, Mr. Shuai was briefly a low-level official in the Chinese government.

For Facebook, which declined to comment on Ms. Moser’s departure, getting into China remains a major priority. China is Facebook’s largest market for ad spending in Asia, even though it is blocked in the country. Chinese companies, local governments and the state news media all use advertising on Facebook as a way to reach beyond Chinese borders.

There are both signs of progress and problems for the company’s efforts to enter China.

Facebook has been quietly scouting Shanghai for an office, and late last year Mr. Zuckerberg was among several executives who met President Xi shortly after China’s leaders held the 19th Communist Party Congress.

But in the lead-up to the party congress, Chinese censors blocked the company’s last major viable product in China, WhatsApp. The chat app remains mostly unusable in the country.

Carolyn Zhang contributed research from Shanghai.

A version of this article appears in print on January 20, 2018, on Page B2 of the New York edition with the headline: Facebook Executive Who Led Efforts to Charm China Is Out. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

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Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/business/facebook-china.html

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