Banned Social Networking sites and their replacements in China
China have banned the popular messaging app Whatsapp in preparation for a major Communist Party congress next month. The move isn’t the first in their history, having not only banned several social networking online apps and websites in the past, but replacing them with their own versions. The most likely reason behind this is so they can keep an eye on what their citizens are doing, forcing them into using China owned and tracked apps. This would make sense as Beijing has blocked users from accessing thousands of different sites that mainly criticise the Communist Party and address sensitive issues such as human rights. As mentioned before, this is not the first app to be banned so let’s take a look at some of the others.
We’ll start the list with WhatsApp which is the latest tool to be blocked by the so-called ‘Great Firewall of China’. The replacement app is called WeChat and is much more than just a social messaging application. You can use the app to pay for various things such as online shopping, utilities bills and doctor’s fees! Another very popular feature within the app is it’s integrated gaming platform, run by it’s parent company Tencent. There is a catch to this new, chinese approved application however and that is, that all users must pay for the service. Not only that but all their information is shared with the government. This aside however, in 2017 it was one of the largest standalone messaging apps with over 963 million monthly active users!
Next is Twitter. The main reason for this is because back in 2009 it was partly blamed for helping to organize a protest and riots in Xinjiang. They brought in the replacement Weibo which basically does the same job as Twitter, allowing you 140 characters to write posts and status updates. The only difference is that it is mainly used to post about users personal and family lives - Instead of arguing about politics and world matters!
Thirdly they have banned Google! Yep, they’ve actually banned the most popular search engine in the world. China’s replacement is called Baidu, which provides the same services online as Google would. Having done some research on Baidu, Weibo and WeChat, it seems that they are currently being investigated by the Chinese authorities in an attempt to bring them under even more control. Talk about not having any online privacy!
As well as banning Facebook back in 2009 for being connected to the riots in Xinjiang, China has also banned Facebook Messenger from being used and has been replaced with their own version, QQ. The only big difference is there is only a desktop application and not a mobile app.
Last but not least, YouTube has also been blocked by the ‘Great Firewall'. The replacement for this application is Youku which works the same as YouTube in the sense that users can upload their own videos, vlogs posts and general content, but again there is a catch. All uploaded videos are monitored by the Chinese government and anything that criticises the Communist Party is immediately taken down from the hosting site. On the plus side, Youku allows users to stream Netflix or Amazon-style original TV shows which is a cool feature.