It looks like WhatsApp has joined similar apps and websites pushed behind China’s online censorship efforts, the so-called “Great Firewall.”
On Monday it appeared the messaging app had been blocked throughout the country, according to the New York Times. The app joins other Facebook-owned apps censored by the Chinese government: Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, so that’s nothing new. But WhatsApp had slowly become more and more restricted since July, according to the New York Times. Video chats, photo and file sharing, and voice chats were harder to use. Within the past week, WhatsApp and other VPN services had been unstable. And on Monday the entire app apparently went down — texts couldn’t even go through.
Anyone else experiencing almost total VPN breakdown in Beijing this morning?
— Tom Phillips (@tomphillipsin) September 20, 2017
Censorship efforts have ramped up in the country with a huge upcoming Communist Party meeting in October. The 19th National Congress is scheduled for Oct. 18. The party meeting happens every five years.
We reached out to WhatsApp for comment about the block.
Users will now have to search for an available Wi-Fi-enabled messaging app. It’s getting harder and harder to access basic sites and apps, like Facebook and Instagram, with the government also clamping down on virtual private network (VPN) use, as well.
There goes the group text.