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Tibetan Activist Says Facebook Censored a Post on Self-Immolation

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A Beijing-based rights advocate believes Facebook now has its own “little secretary” to ensure users don’t put the Chinese Communist Party in a negative light.

Tsering Woeser posted a link to a video of a Tibetan monk who set himself on fire on Dec. 23 in protest against restrictions on Tibetan culture, worship, and freedoms. It’s not clear if the video was visible in the original post, but it disappeared soon after.

“I’m shocked,” Woeser wrote in a post about the deletion. “From 2008 when I registered my Facebook account, for six years, this is the first time I’ve encountered a post deletion.”

Facebook later provided this statement:

“Facebook has long been a place where people share things and experiences. Sometimes, those experiences involve violence and graphic videos. We work hard to balance expression and safety. However, since some people object to graphic videos, we are working to give people additional control over the content they see. This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content. We do not currently have these tools available and as a result we have removed this content.”

So what’s the deal?

Facebook has community standards which prohibit graphic content and suicide ideation.

And, since it’s unclear whether the original post actually showed the video itself, it’s hard to make that call just based on this incident. But we do know that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been cultivating a close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.

In October, he hit the headlines for speaking in Mandarin at a forum in Beijing’s Tsinghua University, even though Facebook is almost totally blocked in China. Then he appeared in a photo with senior official Wang Qishan.

More recently, top Internet censor Lu Wei visited the Facebook headquarters in California, and was photographed gifting Party leader Xi Jinping’s new book of speeches to Zuckerberg.

The same book Zuckerberg handed out to his employees.

Zuckerberg can play a stooge if the price is right.

As to turning Facebook into a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party … time will tell. Chinese bloggers commenting on a VOA article certainly think he’s kowtowing to the regime:

“Facebook in Chinese (Lian Shu) means the same as ‘lose face.’”
“Facebook is willing to be the Chinese communists’ dog on a leash. We will stop using it.”
“Why did Facebook delete this? The answer is on Zuckerberg’s office desk: The book of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. He is being brainwashed.”

Research by Mona

Lu Wei, China’s Internet regulator, recently visited the Facebook headquarters in California. (Screenshot/Twitter)

Mark Zuckerberg with Wang Qishan, one of the Chinese Communist Party’s senior officials. (HKU)


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