Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has removed an app from the Chinese App Store that allowed users to circumvent some of the censorship filters used by the country’s government, reports Agence France-Presse. The FreeWeibo app allows users to view censored content on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging website that is often referred to as “China’s Twitter.”
According to AFP, the app was developed by Chinese cyber-activists in cooperation with Radio Netherlands Worldwide. RNW’s editor-in-chief, William Valkenburg, said he was told by Apple’s App Review board that the app was pulled at the request of the Chinese government, “because it goes against local laws, and that they consider this a matter between the Chinese authorities and RNW.” However, the app is only considered illegal in China and is still available in other markets through other country’s App Stores.
According to RNW, the FreeWeibo app was available through the Chinese App Store for almost two months — from October 4 to November 28 – before it was removed by Apple. “We felt quite good about getting around the Chinese censors,” said a FreeWeibo co-founder who goes by the pseudonym Charlie Smith. “So when we found Apple pulled it, that was a real downer. It’s the worst kind of censorship we can face, because there’s not much we can do to counteract it.”