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In big blow to Mark Zuckerberg, China forces Apple to remove WhatsApp, Threads from App Store

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In a big setback for Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, China has ordered Apple to remove its popular social media apps, WhatsApp and Threads from the App Store. Apple has reportedly complied with the Chinese government’s directive. This move has been interpreted as China looking to close loopholes still available in its Internet firewall.

Mark Zuckerberg-led Meta Platforms' social media apps WhatsApp and Threads have been removed from Apple App Store.(REUTERS)
Mark Zuckerberg-led Meta Platforms’ social media apps WhatsApp and Threads have been removed from Apple App Store.(REUTERS)

Apple, in its reaction, stated that it is committed to adhering to the laws of the countries in which it conducts business, regardless of any differences in opinion. China is a massive market for iPhones.

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However, the Chinese order was not confined just to Meta. Apple has reportedly also removed Signal and Telegram messaging services from the App Store. The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered Apple to remove these apps and cited national security concerns.

Last August, China had ordered all mobile app developers to register with the government or cease operations in an effort to stop online scams and frauds. The deadline for that was March-end.

All these moves have helped domestic social media apps to flower including Tencent Holdings’s WeChat.

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“Less sensitive apps with more substantial Chinese businesses such as Duolingo are expected to comply with the latest regulatory licensing regime to remain operational,” Bloomberg quoted Rich Bishop, co-founder and chief executive officer of AppInChina, as saying.

“It will mean that Chinese consumers are pretty much limited to just Chinese apps, with a small number of international ones,” Bishop added.

The action in the US

While these steps are being taken in China, the US government too has cracked down on TikTok and is actively looking to ban this popular Chinese video app owned by ByteDance Ltd. It is also citing national security fears.

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The option provided to ByteDance is eithet to sell TikTok to a non-Chinese owner or face a ban in the US.

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