Apple Says It Was Ordered to Pull WhatsApp From China App Store

By John Mercury April 20, 2024

Apple said it pulled the Meta-owned apps WhatsApp and Threads from its app store in China on Friday on government orders, potentially escalating the war over technology between the United States and China.

The iPhone maker said that China’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration, ordered the removal of WhatsApp and Threads from its app store because of national security concerns. Apple said that it complied because “we are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree.”

A Meta spokesman directed requests for comment to Apple. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Apple’s removal of the apps.

A person briefed on the situation said the Chinese government had found content on WhatsApp and Threads about China’s president, Xi Jinping, that was inflammatory and violated the country’s cybersecurity laws. The specifics of what was in the content was unclear, the person said.

An Apple spokesman denied that the Chinese government ordered the apps removed because of content on WhatsApp and Thread about Mr. Xi that was inflammatory.

Several other global messaging apps had also been removed from Apple’s App Store in China on Friday, including Signal, which is based in the United States, and Telegram, which is based in Dubai, according to Appfigures, a market research firm that analyzes the digital economy. Signal didn’t immediately have a comment and Telegram didn’t respond to a request for comment.


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