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Russia Blocks WeChat, China’s Most Popular Social Media App

Russia’s telecoms watchdog has blocked China’s WeChat, the social media app developed by Tencent Holdings.

Access has been restricted since May 4, according to information posted on the Russian regulator’s website. Since its launch in 2011, WeChat has become China’s most popular mobile social media platform.

Russian media quoted the regulator Roskomnadzor, which was not immediately available for comment on Saturday, as saying the access was restricted after WeChat refused to provide contact information for the regulator’s register.

Tencent told Reuters it was checking the status of WeChat in Russia and was in talks with the relevant authorities.

Sanctions are stipulated in Russia for “organizers of information distribution on the internet” for failure to comply with the Russian law on information, information technologies and information security.

Social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China, while Chinese President Xi Jinping has been a vocal advocate of so-called cyber sovereignty.

In Russia, Mail.ru’s VKontakte, Facebook’s WhatsApp and Rakuten’s Viber were the most popular mobile messaging applications last year, according to consultants J’son & Partners.

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