Apple Removes WhatsApp and Threads from China App Store

Apple complied with a request from the Chinese government to remove WhatsApp and Threads, both owned by Meta, from the App Store in China. The Chinese government cited national security concerns as the reason. It’s important to note that WhatsApp was already largely inaccessible in China due to the Great Firewall. This move further restricts access to these communication apps.

Apple has taken down two popular messaging apps, WhatsApp and Threads, from its app store in China. The Chinese government ordered this removal, citing concerns about national security. Along with these, Telegram and Signal, two other foreign messaging apps, were also removed.

“The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns,” Apple said in an emailed statement.

“We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree,” the statement said.

The deadline for companies to complete registrations was the end of March and the regulations came into effect on April 1. The four apps remain available in Hong Kong and Macau, China’s two special administrative regions.

This move indicates that China’s government is becoming less tolerant of foreign messaging services that it cannot control. However, other apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger remain available for download.

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It’s not clear how WhatsApp or Threads posed security risks. However, Apple stated that they had to follow the laws of the countries they operate in, even if they disagree.

WhatsApp, Threads, Signal, and Telegram are not widely used in China, where WeChat dominates the messaging scene. These apps are usually blocked in China and can only be accessed with special tools.

Experts suggest that the removal of WhatsApp and Threads might be related to a new rule requiring all apps in China to register with the government.

This isn’t the first time Apple has removed apps from its China store due to government orders. In the past, apps like The New York Times and ChatGPT-like apps were taken down.

The removal of WhatsApp and Threads was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.


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