Tit for Tat? Apple Censors US Social Media Apps at Request of Chinese Gov’t After TikTok Ultimatum

News & Politics

Did Apple just help China retaliate against America’s possible TikTok ban?

Apple has long invested heavily in Chinese markets, and, based on a recent report, the company is willing to exercise censorship to maintain those markets. Bloomberg reportedon April 18 that Apple Inc. had removed at least four social media services from its Chinese App Store, including two Meta-owned apps. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which Bloomberg called “one of the world’s most rigid internet censorship regimes,” demanded that Apple remove the apps over alleged “national security” concerns. Apple complied just after President Joe Biden signed a bill forcing TikTok to either relinquish its Chinese communist government ties or leave the country. The process of both bans have been ongoing, however.

Bloomberg explained, “The orders come on the heels of a cleanup program Chinese regulators initiated in 2023 that was expected to remove many defunct or unregistered apps from domestic iOS and Android stores.” Mobile app developers were reportedly required to complete registration with the CCP by the end of March or be forced to cease operating. The censored apps are Meta’s Threads and WhatsApp, along with Signal and Telegram.

In a statement obtained by Bloomberg, Apple claimed that it disagreed with the CCP’s demands but had to follow them. “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree. The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns,” Apple stated, per Bloomberg. “These apps remain available for download on all other storefronts where they appear.”

The dictatorial CCP’s “Great Firewall” has long banned foreign social media apps, including Facebook and Twitter (now X). Asia-Pacific news site The Diplomat, noted that Chinese users can be sentenced to years in prison for criticizing CCP officials.

American companies’ operations in Communist China continue to be controversial, as do the operations of Chinese companies in America. President Joe Biden signed a bill a week ago that gives TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance a choice between selling TikTok or having the popular app banned. The CCP owns a board seat and maintains a financial stake in ByteDance, and multiple reports claim Chinese employees have access to U.S. TikTok user data, raising national security concerns. 

Conservatives are under attack! Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.

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