Chinese WhatsApp users have found the app completely inaccessible for the past several days, leading some to speculate that the writing may be on the wall for the Facebook-owned application. According to Shanghaiist, this isn’t the first time that the app has been banned from Chinese phones, but a censorship effort regarding next month’s big party congress may be the reason behind the block.
Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software in Paris, has been monitoring China’s ban on WhatsApp as a part of its overall research of censorship in China. Kobeissi told the Verge their findings:
“Essentially, it seems that what we initially monitored as censorship of WhatsApp’s photo, video, and voice note sharing capabilities in July has now evolved to what appears to be consistent text messaging blocking and throttling across China.”
Kobeissi believes that China’s firewall may have recently been upgraded to block the Noisesocket Protocol, which WhatsApp uses to send texts. This block, along with the HTTPS/TLS ban, is what is preventing users from accessing WhatsApp.
This spells bad news for FaceBook should they still be eyeing the Chinese market; now, Colorful Balloons, a secretly-released photo-sharing app akin to FaceBook moments, is its only stake on the Mainland.