US social media giants accused of silencing pro-China users amid COVID-19

By Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/16 22:43:32

A snapshot of the demonetized video of US blogger "the King of Hotpot" Photo: Courtesy of US blogger "the King of Hotpot"

US social media giants including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter have been accused of breaching freedom of speech as some bloggers who have being posting pro-China content amid the COVID-19 pandemic told the Global Times that their voices have been suppressed.

The accusations came after a "how China lied to the world" post by Swedish net user Amie Blomquist, which sorted out the timeline of how China had tried its best to warn the whole world about the threat of COVID-19 but got no listeners except some Asian countries. The post went viral on Facebook but later disappeared from her timeline.   

A YouTuber surnamed Lang, who runs a channel about life in Germany that has 72,900 followers, told the Global Times on Thursday that his channel has faced inexplicable problems since February when he started to post more about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Some followers mysteriously found themselves unsubscribed from my channel, and some told me that their comments on my videos disappeared without a reason," Lang said. 

Lang's videos are marked as "Yellow-L" more often, which means a video has mild content of nudity, violence, sex or drug use and the video's advertisement revenue will be decreased. But Lang has not changed the theme of his videos. 

"It is so weird that my video has more clicks but lower advertisement income," Lang said.  

Popular American YouTuber Nathan Rich, who runs "the King of Hotpot" channel and who comments actively on politics and current affairs, also noted he is getting less advertisement income. "Nearly all my videos on YouTube are immediately demonetized, and can only gain one tenth of the original income," Rich told the Global Times on Thursday. 

He added that YouTube's search has been known to hide his channel that has 467,000 followers. Direct keyword searches often will not show his related videos, even though his views and engagements are very high. When he contacted YouTube support, they told him everything was "working as intended."

Blogger "Uncle Curious" also posted on his official WeChat account on February 24 saying that "Many of my YouTube videos were accidentally labeled as 'Yellow-L.'" Even if an advertisement appeared on my video, there would be no income, and my video would not get recommended to the non-subscribers."

"YouTube is a company from the US, and surely it stands on the side of US interests. Twitter is even worse than YouTube, which I don't even give a shot," Lang said. 

Twitter suspended the accounts of Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus Huang Xingyuan and the Chinese Embassy to Sri Lanka earlier this week. Both have been actively engaging in defending China amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The accounts were resumed later and the platform explained it was a mechanism error. 

A woman surnamed Chen living in Beijing told the Global Times on Thursday that her Instagram account was suspended after she discussed the novel coronavirus situation and discrimination toward Asians in the US with a US user.  

Analysts said such actions by US platforms only expose their hypocrisy when boasting about freedom of speech as they tried to silence or discourage users who post pro-China content. 


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