WhatsApp users in China are reporting that the app isn't properly working across the country, sparking concerns that the Chinese government is censoring the encrypted messaging app.
Many users on the app in China have not been able to send videos, pictures and, in some cases, even texts, reports The New York Times. One Beijing-based reporter tweeted that the app had not been working since Sunday and could only be used with the help of a VPN.
The app's partial shutdown appears to be the result of China’s “Great Firewall,” the government’s internet censorship system.
The government has increasingly censored content and digital services in recent weeks with the passage of a new cybersecurity law and as the government looks to minimize mentions of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese dissident who died last Thursday in government custody.
“According to the analysis that we ran today on WhatsApp’s infrastructure, it seems that the Great Firewall is imposing censorship that selectively targets WhatsApp functionalities,” Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, a cryptography research startup, said to the Times.
Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp, are both already blocked by Chinese government censors.
WhatsApp declined to comment on the matter.