Apple removes WhatsApp and Threads from the App Store in China

Apple says it followed instructions regarding “national security concerns.” The apps WhatsApp and Threads are affected.
Facebook Threads

Apple says it has removed Meta’s own apps WhatsApp and Threads from its App Store in China. The US company was ordered to do this by the Chinese government, citing national security concerns. Other meta apps such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram remain available. The same applies to other popular social media apps from the US, such as YouTube or X/Twitter.

According to Apple, the Cyberspace Administration of China has ordered the removal of these apps from the Chinese App Store. “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree” the statement reads. Meta declined to comment, citing Apple, while the Cyberspace Administration did not respond to a request for comment.

WhatsApp and Threads are still available for download from various app stores. Some Chinese users can actually continue downloading the apps if they have an account outside of China.

Chinese tech industry experts said the government order on WhatsApp and Threads may be related to a 2023 rule. This rule requires all apps available in China to be registered with the government. Companies had until the end of last month to complete registrations as the regulations came into effect on April 1.

It’s not the first time Apple has had to remove apps from its App Store in China. The New York Times news app has been unavailable since 2017, while ChatGPT-like apps were shut down in 2023 after Beijing imposed regulations on generative AI services.

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