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Apple deletes Meta's WhatsApp & Threads from China's App Store—under orders of Beijing

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Apple says it has complied with an order from China’s internet regulator, leading to the removal of Meta’s WhatsApp and Threads from its China's App Store. This decision, announced on April 19, 2024, is said to be due to the services posing risks to the country’s security.


This action is part of a cleanup program initiated by Chinese regulators in 2023, aimed at removing defunct or unregistered apps from domestic iOS and Android stores. The removal of these apps will make it more difficult for users within the country to view content on these international platforms.


In response to this, Apple stated, “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree. The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns”.


This move by Beijing is seen as another step to tighten controls across its cyberspace, forcing domestic and foreign companies to block off information considered politically sensitive. Beyond apps, websites and large language AI models have also been subject to greater content curbs.


Interestingly, this development comes as the U.S. government is taking steps toward a ban on TikTok, the hit video app from Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd. U.S. politicians have also cited national security concerns in their push to force the company to either sell TikTok to a non-Chinese owner or face a ban in the U.S. market.


How will these actions shape the future of global digital communication? We invite you to share your thoughts on this matter.



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Image: Mnogomesta | Dreamstime.com

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