The Chinese government is banning social media apps, including wechat, in what the Chinese government says is an attempt to stop “foreign interference in our internal affairs.”
Chinese officials say they are seeking to protect the country from foreign influences, but critics say they have done little to curb the use of social media in China.
The ban will affect the WeChat messaging app and other platforms in China, including WeChat.
WeChat users are required to register and can be fined or banned if they violate a ban.
Wechat was launched in China in 2014 and is now used by millions of people.
A recent report from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said that in 2018, the Chinese Communist Party banned Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Google+, Viber and Skype in a bid to protect national security.
The party has been targeting social media as an alternative to online content that it says has been used to stir up anti-China sentiment, such as social media postings that glorify the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping.
China’s government has repeatedly claimed that foreign influence has caused social media companies to collapse in China and that social media is used to promote terrorism.
The United States and its allies have criticized the Chinese move.
“It’s a pretty significant move that’s really going to affect the entire ecosystem, from messaging apps to YouTube to social media to content,” said Justin Sullivan, a professor of communication at Johns Hopkins University.
“They’re not just going to be able to say that it’s a crackdown, but it’s going to impact their entire ecosystem.”
WeChat, an online messaging app, said in a statement that it would continue to offer “a broad range of messaging and entertainment services, including video, music, books, movies, TV, games and other entertainment, free of charge.”
Wechat, which has more than 730 million monthly active users, is not part of the new ban.
The government said in January that it was investigating more than 40 different social media accounts that it said were operating illegally.
In an interview with state broadcaster CCTV in September, China’s chief of staff General Yuan said that the government would ban “all types of media outlets, including all types of social networks and other social media platforms.”
In a speech in the capital, Beijing, in December, President Xi Jinping warned that “anyone who supports the Chinese party or any of its organizations in spreading anti-party views and stirring up discontent in the country is in danger.”
The government’s move is expected to have a major impact on the development of digital content in China’s online environment, which is expected have more than 100 million users in 2020.