Apple pulls WhatsApp and Threads from China’s App Store


Apple Store logo in Chengdu, China with two people standing in front of it
WhatsApp and Threads are no longer available for download in China's App Store.
Photo: Unsplash

Following a request from the Chinese government, Apple has reportedly pulled WhatsApp and Threads from China’s App Store. Other Meta apps, like Facebook and Instagram, are still available for download in the country.

The Cyberspace Administration of China asked Apple to take down the two Meta apps, citing national security concerns.

New Chinese government regulations possibly behind WhatsApp’s removal

It is not immediately clear what national security issues led the Chinese government to ask Apple to delist the Meta apps. iPhone users with WhatsApp and Threads installed can continue using it without issues. However, new users cannot download it from the App Store now.

In an emailed statement to the Wall Street Journal, Apple confirmed the removal of the two Meta apps. Its spokesperson said, “The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns.”

The removal comes as Chinese regulators start clamping down on apps that have yet to register with the government based on a directive issued in August 2023. It aims to reduce scams and fraud, with the registration deadline of March 2024. As part of the regulation, app developers must have a mechanism to handle “illegal information.”

Telegram and Signal also removed from China’s App Store

WhatsApp is not the only popular messaging app that is unavailable for download on the iPhone in China. Telegram and Signal have also been removed from the App Store.

This is not the first time Apple has removed popular apps from the Chinese App Store at the government’s request. In 2020, Apple booted over 94000 games from China’s App Store following a new government regulation. Before that, it had removed apps like Quartz and Tripadvisor for violating the App Store or the Chinese government guidelines.


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