WhatsApp falls to the Great Firewall.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most Google services are blocked in China, and WhatsApp is now joining that list. As reported by The New York Times, the Chinese government is cracking down on the Facebook-owned messaging service, with users all over the country facing disruptions.
It remains to be seen if the ban on WhatsApp is temporary. The government blocked WhatsApp’s photo, video, and document transfer options back in July, but the ban was lifted after a few weeks. For now though, WhatsApp is entirely non-functional in the country.
The Chinese government is preparing for the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, where party delegates will elect its new leadership. The congress kicks off in Beijing from October 18, and the fact that WhatsApp employs end-to-end encryption for chats could have been the main factor behind its ban. By contrast, WeChat — the Tencent-owned messaging service that has over 950 million users — complies with the Chinese government’s information requests.