US technology giant Apple has removed an anti-censorship application from its Chinese app store on orders from Beijing, the software’s developers said Friday.
The FreeWeibo app is intended to allows users to read sensitive postings on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that have been censored and deleted, one of its designers said.
Beijing maintains strict controls on the Internet, including a range of technical measures known as the Great Firewall of China, and weibo operators employ ranks of censors to delete contentious comments.
California-based Apple blocked Chinese app store users’ access to the FreeWeibo app on November 28 following a request by Beijing, said Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), which co-developed the software with Chinese cyber-activists.
Attempts by AFP in Beijing to locate the app on a Chinese app store account Friday returned a message saying it could not be found, but it was located and downloadable from devices with overseas app store functionality.
Company representatives in China did not immediately respond to requests for comment from AFP by phone and email.
Apple has seen its global smartphone market share slip and has made China one of its top priorities.
A co-founder of FreeWeibo, who uses the pseudonym Charlie Smith, linked the move to Apple’s “big business interests” in China.
“Apple’s image of being a hip and trendy company is eroding — the brand will hold little cachet for the consumer because of actions like these and in the long run that means less Apple devices will be sold,” he told AFP.
“Steve Jobs must be rolling over in his grave. This is a ‘bad karma’ move on Apple’s part,” he said.
The app went online in early October and survived attempts to “frustrate its functioning”, the RNW statement said.
Beijing had asked Apple to remove it “because it goes against local laws”, RNW said it was told by Apple’s App Review board.
The statement went on: “Apple makes it impossible for apps concerned with issues such as free speech or human rights to find a home in the Chinese App store.”
After falling out with China authorities over censorship and hacking, Internet giant Google relocated its servers to Hong Kong in 2011, and now has only a small share of China’s search market.
What’s the matter with the Universe? Scientists have the answer
A team of US astrophysicists has produced one of the most precise measurements ever made of the total amount of matter in the Universe, a longtime mystery of the cosmos.
The answer, published in The Astrophysical Journal on Monday, is that matter consists of 31.5 percent -- give or take 1.3 percent -- of the total amount of matter and energy that make up the Universe.
The remaining 68.5 percent is dark energy, a mysterious force that is causing the expansion of the Universe to accelerate over time, and was first inferred by observations of distant supernovae in the late 1990s.
‘Nobody won’: Conservatives in Biden hometown left cold by Trump debate
A "Policemen for Trump" hat on his head, Tom Kenney leaves the small room where a dozen or so supporters of the US president are watching the candidates' debate in the swing state of Pennsylvania.
"I got sick of listening to Biden," he says.
Inside the building, Fox News' coverage of the widely-anticipated first debate between Donald Trump and his presidential challenger Joe Biden plays loudly to locals of Old Forge -- a borough of working class Scranton, where Biden grew up.
Their colors are stuck to the mast -- a life-sized cardboard cutout of Trump with two thumbs up welcomes those gathering to watch and Trump posters and anti-abortion slogans are stuck up liberally on the walls.
That was no debate — it was a brawl
Do we really have to pick a debate winner in a brawl? Do the rules matter?
Didn’t we know ahead of time that Donald Trump would slash viciously and personally and pretend that he is an outsider to Washington and that Joe Biden would try to look presidential, mostly stick to his message while wryly noting that Trump was lying once again? If there was a substantive question or response that was a surprise, it slipped by me.
It may have been important to election prospects, but as a debate, it was a pretty sad commentary on our times. And yes, the fact-checking industry was hard at work (yes, Mr. President, there are 100 million Americans with health pre-conditions.)