Chinese Internet Companies Are Censoring People Who Write Or Speak Tibetan Or Uyghur, Lending A Hand To China's Cultural Genocides
from the remembering-Jack-Ma dept
Techdirt has reported on the oppression of Tibetans by the Chinese authorities for 15 years now. More recently, the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs in Xinjiang have come in for the same treatment, with the apparent aim of breaking their spirit and imposing total obedience. But alongside the hundreds of prisons and physical repression — sometimes leading to deaths — the Chinese authorities have been making it increasingly hard for Tibetans and Uyghurs to preserve their distinctive, non-Han cultures. Now Chinese Internet companies are lending a hand to these cultural genocides, reported here by Protocol:
First it was Talkmate, a language-learning app that partners with UNESCO, that posted via its official Weibo account that it had “temporarily” taken down Tibetan and Uyghur language classes “due to government policies.” There is no set date for them to return.
On some services, even people who already speak those languages aren’t allowed to write them. The popular Chinese streaming service Bilibili has banned comments posted in Tibetan and Uyghur:
Screen recordings shared by Fergus Ryan, a senior analyst with ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre, showed that when he tried to type comments in Uyghur and Tibetan, he received error messages that read: “Comment contains sensitive information.”
Similarly, on Douyin, the original Chinese version of TikTok, whenever live-streamers speak an ethnic minority language or a dialect, they will receive a warning to switch to Standard Chinese. And if they don’t, Douyin’s moderators will just cut off the stream, regardless of the content.
The companies are probably not doing this with the explicit intent to stifle Tibetan and Uyghur cultures. It is more likely that they are frightened they will be punished if they let any content that the Chinese government might deem to be “instigating” terrorism or separatism slip through. The dramatic fall from grace of China’s outspoken tech billionaire, Jack Ma, stands as a chilling warning to all Internet companies, big or small. Safer just to block everything in these sensitive languages, it seems. And so the rich living cultures of Tibet and the Uyghurs move another step closer to extinction.