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WhatsApp Messenger, or simply WhatsApp, is an internationally available freeware, cross-platform centralized instant messaging (IM) and voice-over-IP (VoIP) service owned by American company Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook). It allows users to send text and voice messages,[12] make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other content.[13][14] WhatsApp’s client application runs on mobile devices, and can be accessed from computers.[15] The service requires a cellular mobile telephone number to sign up.[16] In January 2018, WhatsApp released a standalone business app called WhatsApp Business which can communicate with the standard WhatsApp client.

Original author(s) : Brian Acton, Jan Koum
Developer(s) : Meta Platforms, Will Cathcart (Head of WhatsApp)
Initial release : January 2009; 13 years ago

China

WhatsApp is owned by Meta, whose main social media service has been blocked in China since 2009.[276] In September 2017, security researchers reported to The New York Times that the WhatsApp service had been completely blocked in China.[277][278]

Iran

On May 9, 2014, the government of Iran announced that it had proposed to block the access to WhatsApp service to Iranian residents. “The reason for this is the assumption of WhatsApp by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist,” said Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, head of the country’s Committee on Internet Crimes. Subsequently, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani issued an order to the Ministry of ICT to stop filtering WhatsApp.[279][280]

Turkey

Turkey temporarily banned WhatsApp in 2016, following the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.[281]

Brazil

On March 1, 2016, Diego Dzodan, Facebook’s vice-president for Latin America was arrested in Brazil for not cooperating with an investigation in which WhatsApp conversations were requested.[282] On March 2, 2016, at dawn the next day, Dzodan was released because the Court of Appeal held that the arrest was disproportionate and unreasonable.[283]

On May 2, 2016, mobile providers in Brazil were ordered to block WhatsApp for 72 hours for the service’s second failure to cooperate with criminal court orders.[284] Once again, the block was lifted following an appeal, after less than 24 hours.[285]

Brazil’s Central Bank issued an order to Visa and Mastercard on June 23, 2020, to stop working with WhatsApp on its new electronic payment system. A statement from the Bank asserted the decision to block the Facebook-owned company’s latest offering was taken in order to “preserve an adequate competitive environment” in the mobile payments space and to ensure “functioning of a payment system that’s interchangeable, fast, secure, transparent, open and cheap.”[286][287]

Uganda

The government of Uganda banned WhatsApp and Facebook, along with other social media platforms, to enforce a tax on the use of social media.[288] Users are to be charged USh.200/= per day to access these services according to the new law set by parliament.[289]

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates banned WhatsApp video chat and VoIP call applications[290][291] in as early as 2013[292] due to what is often reported as an effort to protect the commercial interests of their home grown nationally owned telecom providers (du and Etisalat).[292] Their app ToTok has received press suggesting it is able to spy on users.[291][293]

Cuba

In July 2021, the Cuban government blocked access to several social media platforms, including WhatsApp, to curb the spread of information during the anti-government protests.[294]

Switzerland

In December 2021, the Swiss army banned the use of WhatsApp and several other non-Swiss encrypted messaging services by army personnel. The ban was prompted by concerns of US authorities potentially accessing user data for such apps because of the CLOUD Act. The army recommended that all army personnel use Threema instead, as the service is based in Switzerland.[295]

Zambia

In August 2021, the digital rights organization Access Now reported that WhatsApp along with several other social media apps was being blocked in Zambia for the duration of the general election. The organization reported a massive drop-off in traffic for the blocked services, though the country’s government made no official statements about the block.[296]

Third-party clients

In mid-2013, WhatsApp Inc. filed for the DMCA takedown of the discussion thread on the XDA Developers forums about the then popular third-party client “WhatsApp Plus”.[297]

In 2015, some third-party WhatsApp clients that were reverse-engineering the WhatsApp mobile app, received a cease and desist to stop activities that were violating WhatsApp legal terms. As a result, users of third-party WhatsApp clients were also banned.[298]

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