WASHINGTON – A mobile app launched last week in China that many there hoped would allow access to long banned Western social media sites abruptly disappeared from Chinese app stores a day after its unveiling.
Tuber, an Andriod app backed by Chinese cyber security software giant Qihoo 360, first appeared to be officially available last Friday. It offered Chinese citizens limited access to websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Google, and it facilitated some 5 million downloads following its debut.
Yet a day later, the Tuber app disappeared from mobile app stores, including one run by Huawei Technologies Co. A search for the app’s website yielded no results when VOA checked Monday. It’s unclear whether the government ordered the takedown of the app.
Experts told VOA that such ventures are sometimes designed to create the illusion of choice to users eager to gain access to the global internet, but these circumvention tools are sometimes deleted if they are deemed by the Chinese government to be too popular with consumers.
Chinese users hailed their newfound ability to visit long banned websites before the app was removed last Saturday.
Several now banned articles introducing Tuber went viral Friday on China’s super app WeChat and seem to have contributed to Tuber’s overnight success.
Sporting a logo similar to that of YouTube, Tuber’s main page offered a feed of YouTube videos, while another tab allowed users go to Western websites banned in China.
A reporter at Chinese state media Global Times tweeted that the move is “good for China’s stability and it’s a great step for China’s opening up.”
Exciting news!! #China launched a new web browser Tuber that can connect to