Facebook Inc. has been allowing advertisers to target users in mainland China, despite a ban on the company’s social networks there that prohibits citizens from accessing the apps.
Facebook has long said it works with Chinese advertisers to reach users only outside the country, not inside. But the company’s advertising system tells a different story. Through the ad-buying portal, businesses are told they can reach 3.7 million people in mainland China on Instagram, the photo app Facebook owns. Advertisers can target specific cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.