Users of WhatsApp in China and security researchers have reported widespread service disruptions amid fears that the popular messaging service may be at least partially blocked by authorities in the world’s most populous country. This is happening amid a nationwide clampdown on mentions of late Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died of liver cancer in police custody last week.
Some users reported that the only way to use the app properly was through tools that circumvent the country’s strict internet blocks, dubbed the “Great Firewall.” Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google and Gmail are all blocked in the country.
Full censorship of WhatsApp would aid Chinese native WeChat’s business, which is already the more popular option in China. Native businesses have often benefited from Chinese censorship. Google leaving China did wonders for competing search engine Baidu, and Weibo prospered by the lack of other microblogging sites like Twitter. Facebook has not responded to comment.