- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2019

Facebook has followed Google, Microsoft and other major U.S. tech companies in distancing itself from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Smartphones made by Huawei, the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, no longer come pre-installed with Facebook’s mobile apps, Facebook confirmed Friday.

Huawei customers can still install Facebook products on their phones, but new devices are not being shipped with those apps already included, Reuters first reported.

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Huawei shipped 59.1 million phones worldwide during the first quarter of 2019, according to the company, and in April, it announced plans to move 250 million by the end of the year.

It has since been effectively banned from doing business with U.S. companies over national security concerns, however, raising doubts about its future dominance in the smartphone marketplace.

President Trump signed an executive order last month declaring a national emergency over foreign adversaries “creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services.” The U.S. Commerce Department subsequently added Huawei to its list of entities requiring government approval to contact U.S. companies.

Google has since taken steps to keep its own apps off Huawei phones, and Microsoft recently stopped selling Huawei laptops through its online store.

“We are reviewing the Commerce Department’s final rule and the more recently issued temporary general license and taking steps to ensure compliance,” Facebook said in a statement.

Huawei did not immediately return a request for comment.

Huawei has continued to build working relationships abroad despite the U.S. ban, evidenced as recently as Wednesday this week when the company inked a deal to develop and deploy ultrafast next-generation 5G networks for Russia’s largest telecommunications provider, MTS.

Facebook manages a suite of mobile applications for products including its flagship social network, WhatsApp encrypted messenger and Instagram photo service, and the company claimed last year that 2.5 billion people use at least one of its widely popular apps.

Huawei users with the apps already installed will continue to be able to use and download updates released by Facebook to ensure they have the most recent and secure versions, Facebook told The Washington Times on Friday.

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