27 Sep 2017/Wednesday
China has largely blocked the WhatsApp messaging app, the latest move by Beijing to step up surveillance ahead of a big Communist Party gathering next month.
The disabling in mainland China of the Facebook-owned app is a setback for the social media giant, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has been pushing to re-enter the Chinese market, and has been studying the Chinese language intensively. WhatsApp was the last of Facebook products to still be available in mainland China; the company’s main social media service has been blocked in China since 2009, and its Instagram image-sharing app is also unavailable.
The blocking of WhatsApp text messages suggests that China’s censors may have developed specialized software to interfere with messages, which rely on an encryption technology that is used by few services other than WhatsApp
Chinese authorities have a history of mostly, but not entirely, blocking internet services, as well as slowing them down so much that they become useless. The censorship has prompted many in China to switch to communications methods that function smoothly and quickly but that are easily monitored by the Chinese authorities, like the WeChat app of the Chinese internet company Tencent, which is based in Shenzhen.