Censorship of WhatsApp: What? When? Where?

Apps Mar 17, 2021

WhatsApp Messenger is a popular free instant text messaging system for mobile and other platforms supporting voice and video. Its users can send text messages, images, audio and video recordings, software installations, and other files. It is supported by many platforms, including popular ones like Android, Windows Mobile, Nokia Symbian, iOS, Windows, etc.

WhatsApp's first launch took place back on February 24, 2009, by Ian Kum and Brian Acton in Mountain View, USA. By April 2012, WhatsApp users were sending more than 2 billion messages daily, and by August of that year, that figure had reached 10 billion.

The app has officially become free since 2016. Its users have to pay only for the Internet traffic the application uses. WhatsApp had become the most popular messaging app in the world by 2015, and as of February 2020, over 2 billion users have used it.

WhatsApp has become the main means of electronic communication in lots of countries and regions, including the Indian subcontinent, Latin America, and much of Africa and Europe. Because of WhatsApp's immense popularity, mobile operators' revenue for the transfer of text and MMS messages between users has significantly decreased and resulted in billions of dollars losses.


• Free: WhatsApp uses a mobile Internet connection (4G/3G/2G/EDGE or Wi-Fi, if available), eliminating the need to pay for every message or call.

• Multimedia: Ability to send and receive pictures, videos, voice messages, and documents.

• Group chat: The app provides the ability to chat with yourvcontacts in group chats as well as have conference calls with several people simultaneously.

• WhatsApp Web: Ability to send and receive WhatsApp messages straight from computer's browser.

• No international charges: No need to pay extra money to send WhatsApp messages internationally.

• No usernames and PINs: WhatsApp works with phone numbers, integrating smoothly with phone's existing contacts list.

• Offline messages: Even if notifications are missed or the phone is turned off, WhatsApp will save recent messages until the next use of the app.

• Other: Ability to exchange contacts, share your location, choose custom notification sounds and wallpapers, broadcast messages to multiple contacts simultaneously, and more.

Countries where it is blocked:

While WhatsApp is one of the most popular instant messaging apps of the 21st century, with more than half of the world's population using it, there are countries where the app is fully or partly restricted.

The Chinese government has banned WhatsApp since 2017 during political tide in the country. The app was banned because of its strong encryption codes that limit the country's power to control and censor the contents the Chinese citizens are exposed to, especially during political unrest time. There is also a probability that the Chinese government has censored WhatsApp to promote another instant messaging app WeChat, having full control over it.

The United Arab Emirates
In the UAE, you can't make video or voice calls via WhatsApp. The reason for some feature restrictions of the app placed by the UAE government is the promotion of the use of their local telecommunication services in order not to lose money and increase the revenue of the country.

From time to time, the government of Iran blocks access to WhatsApp in the country.
While they have not given the reasons why for such periodical blocking of WhatsApp, some sources claim that the censorship is related to country security and politics.

Among other social media apps, WhatsApp has been blocked in Syria for political reasons.
It is said that state enemies can take advantage of the end-to-end encryption feature of WhatsApp in order to plot against the government.

North Korea
WhatsApp is fully blocked in North Korea together with most other apps and open Internet access in general. The end-to-end encryption of the app limits government's ability to keep track of and control the communications in the country.

WhatsApp, as well as other social media apps, has been limited in Cuba. In this country, the ban isn't related to politics, censorship, or security. The Cuban government has blocked the app due to its incredibly high cost. The app is free, but the cost of using the Internet there is higher than the average monthly salary. Only a selected few (e.g., journalists, politicians, and legally authorized students) could use the Internet and communication applications like WhatsApp.