Apple Abides by Beijing’s Order to remove WhatsApp from Chinese App Store

Apple removes WhatsApp

This article was last updated on April 19, 2024

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WhatsApp and Threads Suspended from Chinese App Store

In the latest advancement in cyber regulations, Apple has been ordered by Beijing to suspend WhatsApp and Threads from its Chinese App Store. The information was made public by Apple itself via an announcement to the Reuters news agency. The move comes as part of the Chinese government’s effort to quell what it perceives as threats to national security.

Threat to National Security or Tech Tug of War?

The Apps in question, WhatsApp and Threads, are owned by Meta – the parent company of other familiar household names such as Instagram and Facebook. Interestingly, no action has been taken against these other Meta-owned applications, and they remain readily available in China. However, inside China, the most extensively used social media platform is WeChat. This popularity is partially due to the barriers placed on the operation of other globally acclaimed social media platforms within the country, leaving WeChat as a virtually unchallenged leader.

The Possible Ripple Effect of US Policies

This development could be in response to events unfolding in the political landscape of the United States. The US House of Representatives has weighed in on the idea of banning the widely adored social media app TikTok, which has its roots firmly planted in China. The US authorities’ concerns revolve around the claim that TikTok amasses an excessive amount of user data. A punch-back from Chinese authorities using WhatsApp as a pawn in their geopolitical chess game is a viable theory too. With stringent data privacy laws on one side and national security concerns on the other, this instance of app availabilities being used for political leverage is reflective of growing tensions between the significant global players.  The digital terrain of our interconnected world is continually evolving, with countries employing technology for their strategic purposes. As these unfolded events convey, significant tech corporates like Apple, Meta, and their applications have potent roles to play in this techno-political landscape, which we cannot ignore.

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