WhatsApp is the world’s most popular and most used instant messaging app. With about 1.6 billion users, WhatsApp is used in 190 countries — representing about 55.6 percent of the world’s population. And this is so because WhatsApp comes with a handful of features that allows people communicate (via text, audio and video) with family, friends, colleagues, and friends all over the world.. all for FREE!
However, while many individual and businesses enjoy the benefits of WhatsApp in their countries, some features of instant messaging service is restricted in certain countries. We take a look at some countries that have banned WhatsApp and why you cannot use the app (or some of its features) in such regions.
WhatsApp was banned/blocked by the Chinese Government sometime in 2017 during the country’s political season and hasn’t been been uncensored till date. Reports have it that the service was banned in the country due to its strong encryption features which limits the country’s power to control the contents it’s citizens are exposed to, particularly during political periods. It is, on the other hand, believed that the Chinese Government censored the WhatsApp in the country to promote the use of its native instant messaging app, WeChat.
2. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
When in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you can not make video or voice calls via WhatsApp. This is because the UAE placed a ban on WhatsApp (and some other social media apps) in order to promote the use of local telecommunication services based in the country and ultimately increase the country’s revenue.
So when next you’re in the UAE, you have to find some other means of voice or visual means to talk to your friends and family within and outside the country other than WhatsApp.
The Iranian government also blocks access to WhatsApp in the country every now and then. No one exactly knows for a fact why the government has restricted the use of WhatsApp in the country but several sources have reported the censorship to be attributed to politics and security.
WhatsApp is among the social media applications that have been banned in Syria for political reasons. It is believed that the impenetrable end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp can be utilized by state enemies to plot against the government; hence the ban.
5. North Korea
In North Korea as well, WhatsApp services are blocked. Reports have it that the app’s end-to-end encryption limits the ability of the government to keep track of communications in the country.
If you’ll ever be in North Korea soon, you should plan to use some other form of communications other than WhatsApp.
Cuba is also on the list of countries that have limited the use of WhatsApp as well as other social media and communication apps. Surprisingly, the Cuban government didn’t ban WhatsApp in the region for political or security reasons, or as a way to keep tab on its citizens communications.
WhatsApp and other internet services and chat platforms are restricted in Cuba due to extremely high cost of internet usage in the country. The cost of using the internet in Cuba is so high that it exceeds the average salary of Cuba citizens. Crazy, isn’t it. Only a selected few (e.g. politicians, journalists, and legally authorized students) are eligible to use/access the internet and communication apps like WhatsApp.
If you’ve got plans to visit any of the countries listed above, perhaps for vacation or work, you should research some alternative ways to communicate in and outside the countries other than WhatsApp — because you wouldn’t be able to legally use it.
Featured image: Fresh Fort Point