Friday, July 19, 2024

Apple removes Meta’s WhatsApp and Threads services from China App Store

Must read

All traces of WhatsApp – the world’s most popular messaging app, with more than 2 billion monthly active users in 2023 – and Threads, which has soared in popularity on the mainland since its launch last July, are now gone from the domestic App Store, according to a search by the Post on Friday.

Chinese regulatory authorities had ordered the removal of those two apps over national security concerns, according to Apple.

“We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree,” Apple said in a statement cited in a report by The Wall Street Journal, which first broke the news. “These apps remain available for download on all other storefronts where they appear.”

Apple’s App Store icon seen on an iPad screen. Photo: Shutterstock

In an emailed statement, Meta said: “We refer you to Apple for comment.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Two other messaging services, Telegram and Signal, have also been dropped from Apple’s mainland App Store, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday.
Cupertino, California-based Apple last October updated guidelines on its Chinese app developer website to reflect the latest government policy that requires the licensing of all domestic apps before these can be made available on the mainland App Store. This policy effectively requires all apps to use a mainland domain and be hosted by a local entity.
Messaging services Signal and Telegram are said to have also been removed from Apple’s App Store in mainland China. Photo: Shutterstock
Beyond obtaining an Internet Information Provider licence from Chinese regulators, apps geared for mainland users are also expected to satisfy various censorship policies and standards, including updated data transfer rules.
China’s Great Firewall has long cordoned off the world’s largest internet market from various American internet services and mobile apps. That has led to the increased use of virtual private network (VPN) services on the mainland to bypass online restrictions.
While Meta’s Facebook and popular photo- and video-sharing app Instagram remain accessible in Apple’s mainland App Store, those services can only be used in the country with the aid of VPNs.

Latest article