Huawei smartphones will no longer come with Facebook apps

Facebook stops allowing pre-installation

By Michelle Toh, CNN Business
Xander Heinl/Getty Images via CNN

(CNN) - Facebook has stopped allowing the pre-installation of apps on Huawei smartphones, becoming the latest American company to respond to Washington's blacklisting of the Chinese tech firm.

The social media company said Friday that it was suspending the provision of software to Huawei that allowed its devices to come pre-installed with apps including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

People who already own Huawei smartphones with those apps will be unaffected by the suspension, and can continue to use and update the apps, Facebook added.

But the move — first reported by Reuters — is another big blow for Huawei, which has been the target of a US-led campaign to block its 5G equipment around the world and cut it off from American software and components.

Huawei is the second biggest smartphone brand in the world, but the US export ban has already prompted some wireless carriers to postpone the launch of some of its latest devices.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. US authorities have warned that Huawei gear can be used for Chinese spying, a claim the firm has vigorously denied. Last month, the Trump administration added Huawei to an export blacklist that prevents US firms from supplying to Huawei without a license.

Another Silicon Valley giant, Google, has also been forced to pull back on providing its software and services to Huawei because of the ban, which means the Chinese firm may soon be restricted to the public version of the Android operating system and could lose apps like Gmail and Google Maps.

Google can continue to provide updates to existing Huawei smartphones, thanks to a temporary reprieve last month from the US Commerce Department.

Huawei has said it is building its own operating system as a backup, but "would like to be able to continue operating in the Microsoft and Google ecosystems" if it can.

Mobile operators in the United Kingdom and Japan recently delayed the launch of Huawei's new smartphones, and global competitors like Nokia are starting to catch up in the race for 5G contracts.

A Facebook spokesperson on Friday told CNN Business that the company was still studying what the new regulations mean for its ties with Huawei.

"We are reviewing the Commerce Department's final rule and the more recently issued temporary general license and taking steps to ensure compliance," the spokesperson said.

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