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China has had a particularly interesting week in digital thus far.
In the run up to the country’s Communist party reshuffle taking place later this year, it seems that instant messaging service WhatsApp has been crippled within the country.
While WhatsApp isn’t the most widely used chat app in China — that honour goes to WeChat with just under a billion users — it is a notable target. It is the last bastion for Facebook in China and one of the last popular chat apps still functioning within the country.
According to the New York Times, Chinese citizens are unable to send or receive images or video from the messaging app. However, text messages are seemingly unaffected for some.
Facebook has yet to comment on the matter.
In more censorship news, the Chinese government has also censored images of Winnie-the-Pooh.
Yes, you read that correctly.
— Financial Times (@FT) July 16, 2017
The move comes after images comparing Chinese president Xi Jinping to A.A. Milne’s lovable honey-eating bear reappeared on China’s social media platforms, alongside former US President Obama (who himself is compared to Tigger).
A number of these images were censored on Sina Weibo — China’s microblogging platform — and WeChat.
It’s a long running meme that seemingly appeared as early as 2013, Time suggests.
Western popular culture and companies haven’t fared well in the past, with Facebook, Instagram, Google and Twitter all blocked within China’s digital borders.