Popular smartphone messaging app WhatsApp has been disrupted in China as the government is ramping up security measures ahead of a Communist Party meeting next month.
According to the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), network measurement data suggests that Chinese internet service providers started blocking access to WhatsApp on September 23.
WhatsApp’s existence in China has been hanging by a thread ever since its government blocked users from sending photos and videos in July.
As mentioned, the increased censorship comes as 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party gets closer.
China has throttled WhatsApp, as the country continues with its censorship push, in what will come as a major blow to Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg.
However, Facebook as a company has tried to enter the Chinese market before, but Facebook was banned in 2009 and Instagram never made it over there.
Certain WhatsApp features have been blocked previously in China, like video and audio calls, but now, the WhatsApp service is totally unavailable in the country. On Tuesday, a test showed that Chinese users were unable to send video messages or photographs to people outside China via the app.
Citing communications experts, the New York Times reports that the service, which China had already temporarily tried to curtail in recent months, was seeing disruptions as early as Wednesday, and that by early this week the block was comprehensive. Recently, WeChat sent a notice to users reminding them that it complied with official requests for information, confirming its compliance with authorities.
However, WhatsApp refused to comment on this matter. Currently, the only left service of text messages was also blocked.
Segal said that squashing WhatsApp is part of a broader move by authorities to enhance the restrictions under President Xi Jinping. So it brings the question, could Zimbabwe be next to have WhatsApp being blocked?
Such software, called virtual private networks (VPN), allow people in China to access any website, even those that are blocked.