Apple Pulls WhatsApp, Threads From China App Store

( – Apple announced that Threads and WhatsApp, both owned by Meta, were removed from his Chinese App Store after the Chinese government gave the order, citing national security concerns.

On Friday, April 19, the Wall Street Journal published an article about Apple’s removal of the two apps from its app store in the second-largest economy in the world. WhatsApp is an instant messaging app that allows users to send voice, text, video, and voice messages, make video and voice calls, and share pictures, documents, and other features. Threads is a text-focused social media app launched by Meta that is similar to Twitter (now rebranded as X) and linked to the image and video-dominant social media app Instagram.

According to Reuters, Instagram and Meta’s Facebook were not removed from the Apple App Store in China, nor were X and YouTube, which are still available for download. In an email to the news outlet, Apple said that China’s Cyberspace Administration “ordered the removal of these apps” and cited national security as the reason without further details. Apple added that they are “obligated to follow” the law in whatever country they operate in even when the company may disagree.

Chinese consumers could find a way around this if they use an iCloud account in another country to download the apps from foreign Apple storefronts.

What, exactly, about these two specific apps caused security concerns from within the Chinese government is still unclear. Some experts speculate that it has to do with a new rule approved in August 2023. This rule requires every app in China to be registered with the government within a certain timeframe or the apps would be restricted, and the registration deadline was March 31 before the new regulations started on April 1.

This isn’t the first time Apple has removed apps from its app store in China. The New York Times app was removed in 2017 for violating regulations and remains unavailable in the Apple store in China. A number of artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot apps were also removed last year as Beijing works on regulations for AI services.

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