Fb, an app that Chinese language customers can use to bypass the Nice Firewall and entry Google, is gone


This photo illustration shows a logo of the American multinational tech company and search engine Google on an Android mobile device with the flag of the People's Republic of China in the background.

Budrul Chukrut | SOPA pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China – An app that allowed Chinese internet users to temporarily access foreign websites such as YouTube and Facebook – services that have long been blocked – is now gone.

The Tuber web browser was powered by Qihoo 360, a Chinese cybersecurity giant. On October 9, a journalist for the state-backed tabloid Global Times tweeted about its launch.

China's so-called Great Firewall blocks websites like Facebook and its services like Instagram as well as Google and Twitter. Content on Chinese websites is also heavily censored, especially if it is classified as politically sensitive by Beijing.

A virtual private network or VPN is required to access blocked sites in China. However, the Tuber app allowed users to access these services without a VPN.

There were some limitations with the Tuber app, however. According to Reuters and TechCrunch, who both tested the app, users had to register with their ID information and phone number.

Search results on YouTube for politically sensitive phrases such as "Tiananmen" and "Xi Jinping" returned no results in the Tuber app, according to TechCrunch.

The Tuber app was available on the Huawei App Store but was no longer there when CNBC checked on Sunday. It wasn't available on Apple's App Store either. The app's website doesn't work either. It is unclear whether the government ordered the app to be shut down.

Qihoo 360 did not respond to two requests for comment when contacted by CNBC.

According to Rich Bishop, CEO of AppInChina, China's censored internet "gives someone the opportunity to create a filtered version of Google" to compete with local players. But it could also face challenges.

"I think if that got popular, Google would probably block that, and then you'd have to have all the licenses to run a video hosting site and search engine. That in itself is pretty hard to come by," Bishop says of Company is helping developers publish their apps in China, CNBC said.


Steven Gregory