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Apple withdraws Meta’s WhatsApp and Threads from the China app store amid stricter regulations

Apple removes Meta’s WhatsApp and Threads from its China App Store, complying with the country’s strict internet regulations.

Platforms' messaging app and social media service Threads have been removed from Apple's App Store in mainland China. This action aligns with Apple's ongoing adjustments to comply with the country's stringent internet rules.

China tightens its grip on internet applications

In a recent search conducted by the Post, it was discovered that both WhatsApp, the globally dominant messaging platform with over 2 billion monthly users as of 2023, and Threads, which has rapidly gained popularity in China since its launch last July, have been erased from Apple's domestic App Store. The removal was mandated by Chinese regulatory authorities due to national security concerns, Apple confirmed.

Apple expressed its commitment to adhering to local laws, stating, “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree.” The company further noted that these applications remain accessible on other storefronts outside mainland China.

Apple navigates complex regulatory waters

This isn't the first time Apple has had to navigate the complexities of Chinese internet regulations. In response to changing policies, Apple updated its guidelines for Chinese app developers last October to include the government's new requirement that all domestic apps be licenced before being made available on the mainland App Store. This regulation mandates that apps use a mainland domain and be hosted locally.

Apps intended for Chinese users must also comply with stringent censorship norms and data transfer regulations. The licencing process is particularly rigorous for apps that include content related to video gaming, books, magazines, religion, and news.

Other apps face similar fates

Additionally, other messaging services like Telegram and Signal were also removed from Apple's mainland App Store, as reported by Bloomberg. In August of the previous year, Apple had withdrawn over a hundred applications offering ChatGPT-like features, anticipating new local regulations on generative artificial intelligence.

Despite these restrictions, Meta's Facebook and Instagram continue to be available in the mainland App Store, although they require a virtual private network (VPN) to function within China.

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Emma Job
Emma Job
Emma is a freelance news editor at Tech Edition. With a decade's experience in content writing, she revels in both crafting and immersing herself in narratives. From tracking down viral trends to delving into the most recent news stories, her goal is to deliver insightful and timely content to her readers.

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