China Blocks All Access to WhatsApp
In a move strengthening China’s grasp on internet consumption and social media, mainland China has now fully blocked WhatsApp and all of its services. This is a large blow to the Facebook re-entrance attempt of the Chinese market, as now there is no Facebook-owned product (with the exception of Colorful Balloons, an application mimicking Facebook moments) operating within the country.
Back in July, China initially blocked all media on WhatsApp except for messaging. This meant you could not send images, make calls or use stories within China, though you could send messages. Now that has changed and has led to the complete shutdown of the application within the country’s borders. This is possibly because of the end-to-end encryption which was added to WhatsApp last year. It may also be an attempt to push users towards WeChat (a WhatsApp alternative), which provides user data to the Chinese government. Applications such as WeChat are still increasing in usage, and the blocking of WhatsApp will only push its usage higher. WhatsApp has over 1 billion users, but WeChat has nearly 700 million. It’s gaining ground fast. Facebook products are not the only ones blocked in China, with Google’s suite of products and other social media from other companies blocked too by the Great Firewall of China.
However, Facebook as a company has tried to enter the Chinese market before, but Facebook was banned in 2009 and Instagram never made it over there. This is a major blow to the company, as the country’s 600 million or so smartphone users can be a lucrative market for the tech giant.
It’s interesting to note this is not the only ban this year, with Pinterest and Periscope also being blocked. With over three thousand websites blocked, WhatsApp is just another to add to the list and I’m sure we’ll see more.
Source: The New York Times