App to access Facebook, Google behind Chinese Firewall disappears


  • An app that allows people in China to use Facebook, Google, and other foreign platforms — which are blocked in the Communist nation — has disappeared from app stores, according to CNBC.
  • The Tuber app, backed by a subsidiary of China-based Qihoo 360, launched last week, including on Apple and Huawei’s app stores. It is now reportedly unavailable on both.
  • China has a track record of censoring the internet for its citizens, restricting the kind of content they are able to access through websites and other services.
  • Internet users in China have been able to skirt the nation’s “Great Firewall” of banned websites by using virtual private networks, or VPNs.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An app designed to allow people in China to use Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other foreign platforms— which are blocked by the government — has disappeared from app stores shortly after launching, CNBC reported Monday.

The Tuber app allows online Chinese users to skirt the nation’s “Great Firewall,” an internet ban that blocks many popular US apps in the Communist country. The get-around was short-lived — it launched last week, and after a journalist with the state-backed publication Global Times tweeted about it, Tuber reportedly disappeared from the Huawei app store. The app, which is backed by a subsidiary of the Chinese cybersecurity firm Qihoo 360, is also now unavailable on Apple’s App Store, according to CNBC. Qihoo 360 did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

China has a long history of censoring the internet, strictly regulating the kinds of websites and services users can access. Its “Great Firewall” bans a slew of US tech firms from being able to reach millions of users in the Eastern nation, but some have been able to get around it by using virtual private networks, or VPNs.

The Tuber app allowed residents to access banned websites without the need for VPNs. However, a test of the app from TechCrunch revealed it was still somewhat censored, with politically sensitive terms such as “Tiananmen” showing no results. The outlet also found that Chinese citizens were required to provide a phone number to use the Tuber app, meaning their identity could be potentially shared with officials.

News of Tuber’s disappearance from app stores comes as tensions continue to grow heated between the US and China. The Trump administration has cracked down on Chinese apps and services, with the president’s attempts to ban the popular video-sharing app TikTok — owned by Beijing-based ByteDance — being a prime example. President Trump has also sought to ban the popular Tencent-owned social app WeChat. 

Federal judges in late September temporarily blocked Trump’s attempts to ban both TikTok and WeChat, but their futures in the US remain uncertain. A hearing is slated for November 4, when a federal judge will decide whether or not to allow the administration to ban transactions with TikTok. TikTok is still in negotiations with Oracle for a potential sale of its US operations, a deal that will need the approval of US regulators.  





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