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China Tries to Block WhatsApp as Censorship Grows


Person texting on WhatsApp

It seems like the Chinese censorship continue to grow as the country blocks popular messaging app WhatsApp, which belongs to Facebook. The country’s newest surveillance technology has the aim to disrupt the app as part of the strategy to control every corner of the internet. Also, to block any foreign influence that might implement idea into the minds of the people. It seems like this latest attempt is affecting the app intermittently. The project that blocks certain apps began back in July but has only gotten more complex over the following months.

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China disrupts WhatsApp

China’s recent efforts only mark another step back for Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He has numerous times displayed his idea to expand the app’s influence in China, but it seems that his efforts have been in vain. It all began back in July, when users started noticing certain minor problems with the app. Some were unable to send voice messages or images, while other didn’t receive any. So, from last week, WhatsApp users in China began experiencing certain issues and outages.

The idea is that the country’s Great Firewall surveillance program blocks traffic based on certain connections that are made to addresses and servers. However, experts revealed that Facebook doesn’t stay in just one place. Instead, it regularly changes server addresses. This is why censors couldn’t block it from the start and it took time. An expert explains that always rotating those server addresses keeps the network a lot more efficient. At the same time, an unintended side effect is that it also avoids being spotted by the Great Firewall. However, it seems like the surveillance program is now adapting to those changes and catching up.

The Great Firewall

The fact that China is looking to disrupt WhatsApp is not surprising, as the messaging service was one of the few remaining such apps that were working in China. And with last year’s end-to-end encryption, censors were no longer able to access the people’s conversations. This type of encryption means that only the sender and the receiver can have access to those messages. This bothered them greatly and they ended up disrupting the service altogether. We will see what will happen, but as of Tuesday, people are reportedly still able to use WhatsApp in China.

Image source: wikimedia


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