What seems to be an attempt to have a complete control over the internet, China has blocked Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp. This is another setback for social giant Facebook, whose flagship site was blocked in 2009 after the ethnic unrest.
People reported many forms of messages like video and voice messages sent from Beijing were all blocked and weren’t able to deliver without a virtual private network (VPN) on Wednesday. Earlier on Monday night, many WhatsApp users in China reported experiencing intermittent outages. Soon people started taking to social media to report about their audio and video clip being not delivered.
Soon people started taking to social media to report about their audio and video clip being not delivered.
— Steffen Wurzel 🇪🇺 吳策 [im Urlaub] (@SteffenWurzel) July 18, 2017
WhatsApp only working properly in #China using VPNs. The Govt says it'll block all VPNs. Remember OlympicChina that seemed to be opening up?
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) July 18, 2017
The recent clampdowns come as China suppression on online platforms. However, WhatsApp has not made any comment on the temporary censorship. Beginning in late 2014, Facebook began an aggressive campaign to woo the Chinese government and get its main social network back into the country.
The Chinese govt has been vocal in calling for China to establish sovereignty online, and has set up a new internet regulator to consolidate controls over the web. The government has put strong emphasis on the law, which could serve as a watershed for how the internet is managed and foreign companies are monitored.
China’s telecom regulator said it would ban unauthorized VPNs starting in February 2018. Recently, a number of virtual private networks, tools that allow users in China to access the broader internet around the world had been removed from app stores or shut down.
The development has also left many Western firms uncertain about their future. However, people from the business quarter in China raised concern over the excess censorship by the govt.
WhatsApp has more than a billion monthly active users globally. Globally popular WhatsApp is second player in China as home-grown WeChat dominates the market. Even WhatsApp messages are encrypted and seamlessly help in communicating with its neighbouring countries, WeChat is unencrypted and highly censored.
Most of the apps and online services are subject to censorship and in tune to help its home-grown businesses like Alibaba, Tencent and WeChat.
Meanwhile, a person in know of recent censorship on condition of anonymity said, the move is to help home-grown chat service WeChat as the blocking will force people to use it.
China was globally criticised for heavy censorship when Nobel Peace Prize-winner Liu Xiaobo died. China blocked social media posts and even private messages and group chats about the death of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Facebook and Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Google and Gmail are all blocked in China. A large number of websites are blocked by the Great Firewall. The only way to access them is with a VPN.