WhatsApp is Back to Normal in China

By Matthew Bossons, July 19, 2017

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WhatsApp users can breathe a sigh of relief this afternoon, as it appears the program is operating normally.

Widespread reports emerged yesterday indicating that some WhatsApp functions were being blocked within China, specifically video and voice calls and, for some users, the ability to send images, videos and even text-based messages.

When the team at That’s signed on to WhatsApp’s mobile app this afternoon, we were able to send videos, photos and place both voice and video calls. The program is also still available on the Chinese Apple Store, although we were unable to find it on the Huawei or Xiaomi app stores.

Without a VPN, accessing WhatsApp’s webpage appears to be hit-and-miss, loading fine for some web users, while others have been unable to access the page. We were able to access the site after several attempts (which pulled up the disappointing ‘This site cannot be reached’ notice) and a firewall testing service suggests it has not been blocked.

whatsapp-website1.png

A multi-platform messaging service, WhatsApp is owned by Internet heavyweight Facebook and is the company’s last functioning service in China. 

There has been some speculation that the app may be facing a Gmail-style takedown. Even after the main Google site was blocked, Gmail remained accessible until around December 2014 – but with bandwidth throttled, meaning slow connections that pushed users to migrate to other mail services.

More likely, perhaps, is that yesterday’s WhatsApp service issues were related to Facebook’s decision to transfer the messaging program from IBM cloud servers to its own data centers, a move that was announced last month.

The team at WhatsApp declined to comment on their program’s inconsistent functionality in the PRC when contacted by That’s.  

Additional reporting by Sky Gidge.

[Cover image via Business Standard]

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