Apple removes WhatsApp and Threads from App Store in China

Apple has taken down two popular apps, WhatsApp and Threads, from its App Store in China. The Chinese government requested this removal, citing national security concerns. Despite their availability elsewhere, iPhone users in China can no longer download these messaging and social apps.

The Cyberspace Administration of China instructed Apple to remove WhatsApp and Threads due to worries about national security. Apple emphasized its commitment to complying with local laws, even when it disagrees with them. Failure to do so could result in the App Store being shut down in China.

Threads had been accessible in China since July, surprising many given China's ban on Meta services. Similarly, WhatsApp remained available for an extended period. While Meta services can still be accessed via VPN tools, the removal of the apps may hinder their usage for iPhone users in China.

Apple frequently complies with China’s requests to remove apps, including VPNs, news, and social media platforms, when legally obliged to do so. The timing of this removal coincides with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent visit to the region. Some speculate it could be related to ongoing tensions surrounding the potential divestment of TikTok.

This move by China may signal the beginning of more app bans in the lead-up to a reported deadline for unregistered foreign apps. Users in China may need to rely on VPN tools to continue accessing certain services, as the government tightens control over digital platforms.

Image: DIW-Aigen

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