Facebook’s Latest Attempt To Slip Back Into China Is Falling Flat On Its Face


Facebook is trying to stealthily re-enter the Chinese market, but few in China seem particularly interested in what the company has to offer.

Relying on a local Chinese company, the social media giant has finally penetrated the Chinese market after being banned several years ago. Facebook released a new photo-sharing app — Colorful Balloons — in China, potentially clearing the way for the company’s return and resurgence in the huge Chinese market.

China’s 700 million internet users don’t seem to care, though.

Local news outlets provided limited coverage of the app’s release in China, and downloads are on the low end despite having been out for months, according to Quartz. The app, having received some publicity from the New York Times over the weekend, now ranks 758th in the Chinese app store after not even ranking for weeks.

Facebook has been trying, unsuccessfully, to make its way back into Facebook for years. From Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s fun run through the smog-ridden streets of Beijing, to meetings with Chinese government officials, to secretly developing a censorship tool to appease Beijing, the social media company has been making concession after concession to try to get back into the valuable Chinese market.

There is evidence that Facebook may be fighting for a “sliver” of the market. The same is true for companies like Google and Twitter.

Even if Facebook returns to China, it may face challenges securing a position in the market. Baidu, China’s Google, had 660 million monthly active users as of September 2016. Weibo, which provides services similar to Twitter and Facebook has around 300 million active users, and WeChat, an online chat and posting platform, had 697 million active users by December of last year.

The latter two platforms emerged after Facebook left the country. Chinese users, however, seem much more interested in the return of Google over Facebook. “Facebook is too dull and boring,” wrote one Chinese netizen, according to the Quartz report. “The features are nowhere near those of Weibo.”

Even if Facebook’s efforts to kowtow to the Chinese government or secretly slip apps into the country succeed, it is likely that Facebook will be unable to develop a strong presence in the market given the popularity of Chinese competitors.

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