China banned the use of Facebook in the nation by 2009 due to suspicion regarding mass surveillance program. The leadership of China has blocked image sharing and voice chatting services of Whatsapp, but just a day before, the country also blocked the use of Facebook’s Messenger.
Chinese service providers took this stern step after observing censorship of information, traffic manipulation and continuous monitoring of databases. On 19th September, Chinese authorities made Whatsapp inaccessible. There were several disruptions in the operations and functionalities of Whatsapp and several other social networking sites and their applications.
The security analysts are looking at this step by China as a deliberate attempt to secure its national information which will be discussed in the enormous Communist Party which is scheduled to take place on 18th October. This event will also mark the commencement of President Xi Jinping’s second regime of rulership.
Whatsapp has yet not replied to the current situation and it is likely that a policy statement will be made by Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg has tried several times to re-enter the Chinese market of social media and other digital divisions but the national policy of China has hampered any such attempts made. The resolve of Facebook’s founder can be seen from the fact that he is learning Mandarin Chinese. Facebook suffers from the loss of not being able to entertain the market of Chinese users and that has affected their revenue and customer base substantially particularly after the ban on Instagram.
Press and internet censorship is not new for the natives of China. Previously, the country slowed down the speed of the broadband internet to avoid any sort of cyber-malpractices. One major reason is also the China’s agenda to support its local industry of Android applications and curb the impact exerted by foreign developers. Chinese users have significantly switched to local messaging and communication application like WeChat app.
In the light of all these events, the New York Times said,
The blocking of WhatsApp text messages suggests that China’s censors may have developed specialized software to interfere with such messages, which rely on an encryption technology that is used by few services other than WhatsApp,
While Chinese government continues to curb freedom of speech and access to the external world through internet, the natives continue to access and use these banned applications through VPNs and proxies. These barriers are an area of great concern for companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple because these obstructions prevent the companies from gaining access to 700 million internet active users in China.