Apple complies with Beijing’s order: WhatsApp and Threads removed from China’s App Store

Following an order from the Chinese government, Apple has removed WhatsApp and Threads from its app store in China, citing national security concerns as the reason behind the directive.

Apple confirmed on Friday that it had received orders from Chinese authorities to eliminate the two apps from its App Store within the country. The company emphasized its commitment to compliance with local laws, even in cases where there may be disagreement with the directives.

The action leaves other Meta apps including Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook still accessible on the Chinese App Store. Previously, Chinese users could access major Western social media platforms through domestic app stores, despite official restrictions. However, the removal of WhatsApp and Threads effectively closes this loophole on iPhones. Nevertheless, users retain the option to download these apps from other countries’ App Stores and access them via virtual private networks.

The decision to delist these apps follows a directive from China’s influential internet regulator and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. They had set a deadline of April 1 for apps operating in China to register formally with the government. 

The development coincides with heightened scrutiny in the United States, where Congress is preparing for a vote on a bill aimed at banning the popular short video app TikTok if it remains under the ownership of ByteDance, a Chinese company.

Written by Sophie Blake


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