While Facebook continues to be blocked in China, WhatsApp had been allowed until now. But reports suggest that the Chinese government is now clamping down on the messaging service as well. Users have experienced trouble sending photos, videos and even text messages, NYT reports. Security analysts have told the publication that this could be the start of a complete ban on WhatsApp that competes with WeChat (owned by Chinese internet and telecom giant Tencent). Also Read - WhatsApp COVID-19 relief efforts: How you can get resources during the pandemicAlso Read - Good news! Jio users can now check COVID-19 vaccine slots on WhatsApp - here's how
If WhatsApp is banned, it will join an illustrious list of blocked internet services in communist China. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Flickr, SoundCloud, YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo are all blocked by the ‘Great Firewall’ — China’s system of internet filters and government-backed controls. It is ironic that Silicon Valley tech behemoths have found it nearly impossible to break into a country that houses the world’s largest internet population. ALSO READ: Amazon is reportedly working on a standalone messaging app called Anytime Also Read - TikTok, WeChat coming back to the US? Biden revokes Trump's order
WhatsApp’s loss however is WeChat‘s gain. The homegrown messaging app has 846 million monthly active users (MAUs), according to Statista, and is among the leading IM apps in the world. QQ Mobile, another popular Chinese IM app, has 877 million MAUs. They are within striking distance of WhatsApp and Messenger — both owned by Facebook — that have 1 billion MAUs each. ALSO READ: Facebook might soon launch Talk messaging app for teens: Report
WhatsApp seems to be bearing the brunt of new cyber security laws in China as well as an increasingly sensitive political environment. According to the analysis that we ran today on WhatsApp s infrastructure, it seems that the Great Firewall is imposing censorship that selectively targets WhatsApp functionalities,” an internet security expert was quoted as saying. Facebook itself has been a victim of China’s turbulent political environment, and is blocked since 2009. Instagram too faced a similar fate in 2014. Now, WhatsApp!