US technology giant Apple has removed an anti-censorship application from its Chinese app store on orders from Beijing, the software’s developers said.
The FreeWeibo app is intended to allow users to read sensitive postings on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that have been censored and deleted, one of its designers said.
Beijing maintains strict controls on the Internet, including a range of technical measures known as the Great Firewall of China, and weibo operators employ ranks of censors to delete contentious comments.
California-based Apple blocked Chinese app store users’ access to the FreeWeibo app on November 28 following a request by Beijing, said Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), which co-developed the software with Chinese cyber-activists.
Apple has seen its global smartphone market share slip and has made China one of its top priorities.
A co-founder of FreeWeibo, who uses the pseudonym Charlie Smith, linked the move to Apple’s “big business interests” in China.