Apple pulls WhatsApp, Threads from store after Beijing order

Published April 20, 2024
CUSTOMERS visit an Apple store in Shenyang, a city in China’s north-eastern Liaoning province, in this Oct 30 file photo.—AFP
CUSTOMERS visit an Apple store in Shenyang, a city in China’s north-eastern Liaoning province, in this Oct 30 file photo.—AFP

BEIJING: Apple said on Friday it had removed Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp and Threads from its App Store in China after being ordered to do so by the Chinese government, which cited national security concerns.

Telegram and Signal — two other foreign messaging apps — were also removed from the store on Friday, according to app tracking firms Qimai and AppMagic.

The removal of the four apps suggests growing intolerance on the part of China’s central government towards at least some foreign online messaging services that fall outside of its control. It also signals less leeway for Apple in China.

However, other Meta apps, including Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, remained available to download, according to Reuters checks on Friday. Many other popular apps developed by Western companies, including YouTube and X (formerly Twitter), were also available.

It was not immediately clear how WhatsApp or Threads might have caused security concerns for Chinese authorities.

“The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns,” Apple said in an emailed statement.

“We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree,” the statement said.

Meta declined to comment and referred queries to Apple. Apple did not respond to requests for comment on Signal and Telegram. Representatives for the two companies did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2024

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