HONG KONG – Apple Inc. has disabled its news app in China, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, the most recent sign of how difficult it can be for foreign companies to manage the strict rules governing media and online expression there.
The Apple News app, which the company announced in June, is available only to users in the United States, although it is being tested in Britain and Australia. Customers who downloaded the app by registering their phones in the United States can still see content in it when they travel overseas — but they have found that it does not work in China.
Those in China who look at the top of the Apple News feed, which would normally display a list of selected articles based on a user’s preferred media, instead see an error message: “Can’t refresh right now. News isn’t supported in your current region.”
Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., declined to comment.
Greater China is Apple’s second-largest source of revenue after the United States, with sales of more than $13 billion in the third quarter. That means the company is most likely taking a careful approach to delivering new content, such as that on its news app, within China.
Beijing generally insists that companies are responsible for censoring content inside China. In Apple’s case, that would mean it would probably have to develop a censorship system to eliminate sensitive articles from feeds.
NEW YORK TIMES