The world’s largest cross-platform messaging service, whatsapp, has now been blocked in the world’s largest smartphone market. China is no stranger to blocking access to online services and it appears to have properly turned its attention to WhatsApp. While the Facebook-owned service was partially blocked in the country before, according to latest reports, WhatsApp has now been entirely blocked in China.
There are a plethora of services that we use on a daily basis which are blocked in China. These include Facebook, Twitter, many of Google’s services, Wikipedia, and others. WhatsApp has now joined that list.
WhatsApp was partially blocked previously. Features like video chats didn’t work but it was possible to communicate over messages. That’s no longer possible now.
The New York Times opines that WhatsApp’s strong encryption technology might have drawn the attention of Chinese censors. WhatsApp messages are encrypted end-to-end, which means that the service itself doesn’t know the content of messages so it can’t turn them over when asked by a government.
With WhatsApp being blocked in the country, the majority of the users have switched to a local alternative called WeChat. It’s owned and operated by a local internet behemoth called Tencent.
Facebook has not yet commented on the matter, though that’s not out of the ordinary when it’s asked about issues faced by its services in China.