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China orders Apple to remove WhatsApp, Threads, other apps in censorship move: Report

Apple has removed popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal from China’s iPhone app store following orders from the Chinese government. wall street journal It was reported on Friday.

An Apple spokesperson told WSJ that “even when we disagree, we are obligated to abide by the laws of the countries in which we operate,” adding that Chinese authorities have not allowed the tech giant to comply with the laws of the countries in which it operates, citing national security concerns. He admitted that he had requested that many apps be removed.

Apple confirmed on Friday that it had removed some apps from the Apple App Store in China at the request of the Chinese government. (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

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Citing sources, the magazine said the Cyberspace Administration of China told Apple to remove Meta-owned WhatsApp and Threads from the App Store “because they both contain political content, including questionable references to the Chinese president.” They requested that it be removed, but an Apple spokesperson denied the request. That was part of the reasoning.

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The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tightly controls what its citizens are exposed to and suppresses political speech critical of the regime. The Chinese government has passed laws and regulations with specifications for what content can be banned online and pro-democracy media.

Xi Jinping speaks at the Politburo

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the unveiling ceremony of the Chinese Communist Party’s new Politburo Standing Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 23, 2022. (Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

China’s demands for Apple to remove the app signal the Chinese central government’s growing intolerance toward at least some foreign online messaging services that are outside of its control. It also suggests Apple has less headroom in China, its largest overseas market.

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The move follows a bill passed by the House of Representatives last month that could bar China-based parent company ByteDance from selling popular social media app TikTok on U.S. app stores unless it sells it within 165 days. It comes as the Senate prepares to take it up. aisle. It would also require that the platform be purchased by a country that is not an enemy of the United States.

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Apple on Friday removed four apps from China’s App Store in response to a request from the Cyberspace Administration of China. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters Photo)

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Other meta-apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Messenger were still available for download in China as of Friday, as were popular apps developed by Western companies such as Google’s YouTube and Elon Musk’s X, Reuters reported. It is said that

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FOX Business’ Elizabeth Elkin and Reuters contributed to this report.

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