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China's Ban on 5 Social Networks and GAFAM: Unveiling the Restricted Platforms

Delve into the China-U.S. clash over TikTok, rife with political tensions, security concerns, and allegations of double standards. Discover more!
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 For several years now, China has blocked access to foreign social media platforms such as X, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Google services. This censorship policy faces numerous criticisms, both nationally and internationally. Recently, Beijing has also warned against the forced sale or banning of TikTok in the United States, even threatening retaliation.

China's Ban on 5 Social Networks and GAFAM: Unveiling the Restricted Platforms

Censorship in China

In China, the government blocks access to many popular Western social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and WhatsApp. The reasons behind these blockages are mainly linked to information control and censorship exercised by the Chinese government.

Censorship and control of information

Western social networks are generally open platforms where users can share information freely, including criticism of the government. The Chinese government blocks these platforms to maintain strict control over information that circulates online, limiting dissent and preventing the spread of opinions contrary to the official line.

Protection of the local economy

By blocking Western social networks, China is also favoring its own domestic social platforms.

For example, WeChat is a very popular social media platform in China that offers similar features to Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. By preventing access to foreign competitors, the Chinese government protects domestic companies and promotes their development.

Security and surveillance

The Chinese government also imposes restrictions for national security and surveillance reasons. Western social networks can be seen as potential security threats due to their privacy policies and their ability to allow private communication between users, which can escape government control.

Soon, TikTok’s turn?

Even though the TikTok platform is not technically banned in China, access to it is restricted to users with a virtual private network (VPN). Washington considers this situation ironic, given that the Asian country blocks access to many other international platforms.

Domestic favoritism strategy for Douyin

In China, the restriction of TikTok could be motivated by the desire to favor the domestic application Douyin, created by the same parent company, ByteDance. This strategy aims to promote the use of national platforms and maintain control over the domestic social media market, crowding out foreign competition.

Criticism against bullying and discrimination

China's criticism of the United States over TikTok centers around the accusation of bullying and discrimination. China views U.S. attempts to restrict TikTok as political interference aimed at hindering the success of a successful Chinese business rather than a legitimate security concern.

Double standard

However, these criticisms are met with accusations of double standards and hypocrisy. Although China points the finger at US policies, it itself practices strict censorship and control of online information, suggesting a selective and contradictory approach.

Countries blocking access to social networks

According to Statista, around 2% of countries worldwide currently block access to at least some social networks or communications apps. This approach can be explained by different reasons, ranging from the control of public opinion and the fight against illegal content to the protection of privacy and the defense of cultural or religious values.

Some examples of countries that practice social media censorship

Iran has notably blocked access to Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram since 2009, fearing the influence of Western countries on its society.

North Korea, for its part, also limits access to the internet and social networks to reinforce its political ideology and control information from abroad.

Russia, which recently passed a series of laws restricting access to social media and increasing government control over the internet, also blocks access to certain platforms like LinkedIn and Telegram.

Finally, other countries, such as Pakistan or Turkey, have also implemented temporary or permanent restrictions to block certain websites or social networks.

China's Ban on 5 Social Networks and GAFAM - Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

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