The Apple News App is not working in China, according to users travelling in the country including CNN reporters. It is unclear whether the Chinese government’s Great Firewall blocked the app, or the tech giant decided to disable it because of China’s strict rules on media.
Apple launched the News app in the United States in June, and the app is also currently tested in Australia and the United Kingdom.Users who already downloaded the Apple News app in the United States can access content while travelling in other countries, but they discovered that the app in not accessible in China.
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Larry Saliba, an entrepreneur and founder of Play4Bugs, software testing service, noted that the Apple News app was properly functioning when he was in Hong Kong, and his device was connected to LTE network of China Mobile Hong Kong. However, when the device was connected to China Mobile’s Mainland network, Apple News feed stopped working, and the message appeared: “Can’t refresh right now. News isn’t supported in your current region.”
CNN reporters in China and Hong Kong experienced the same. According to them, they were able to download the app after switching their regions on the iPhone to the United States on Monday.
They noted that the Apple News app normally functioned when the iPhone was connected to a mobile network in Hong Kong, but when it was connected to a network in Beijing, an error message appeared: “Story Unavailable. News isn’t supported in your current region.”
Apple hasn’t released statement on the issue
A related report from the New York Times cited unnamed sources familiar with the situation, who confirmed that Apple disabled the News app in China. Apple hasn’t released any official statement regarding the issue.
China has been censoring information particularly from Western media and social networks such as Google and Facebook, which are blocked in the country. The only U.S. social media platform allowed by the Chinese government is LinkedIn after the company agreed to block contents.
Market observers believe that Apple does not want to jeopardize its business in China, and it is very careful in its strategy particularly in delivering content to Chinese users.
They suggested that the tech giant will probably develop a censorship system since the Chinese government stated that companies are responsible for censoring content inside the country. Most Chinese companies use their employees and automated software to remove sensitive contents from news feeds.
China is the second-largest source of revenue for Apple. The tech giant generated $13 billion in revenue from the country in the third quarter.
Apple News censorship is “very disconcerting”
In a post on Reddit, Mr. Salibra commented, “They’re censoring news content that I downloaded and stored on my device purchased in the USA, before I even enter China just because my phone happens to connect to a Chinese signal floating over the border.”
He also emphasized, “That Apple has little choice doesn’t make it any less creepy or outrageous.” He also told the New York Times that he finds Apple’s action “very disconcerting.”