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Facebook secretly launched photo-sharing app in China

Facebook Inc. covertly rolled out a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons in China in May, The New York Times reported Aug. 11, citing a person with knowledge of the company's plans.

The person said Facebook authorized the debut of the app, which shares similar attributes to the social networking giant's Moments app. The Chinese app links users through China's biggest social network, WeChat.

The app was reportedly released in China by a company called Youge Internet Technology, according to a post in Apple's App Store. There was no indication that it is connected to Facebook.

Colorful Balloons enables the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company to observe how Chinese consumers share information with their social circle and interact on social media, according to the report.

"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 reportedly said.

It was unclear whether Chinese internet regulators are aware of the app's existence.

Tencent Holdings Ltd. owns WeChat.