International Campaign for Tibet calls Facebook to account after CEO Zuckerberg hosts visit of Chinese internet censorship chief

The International Campaign for Tibet launched a petition on Care2 to Facebook today calling CEO Mark Zuckerberg to account after a video of a self-immolation in Tibet posted by a prominent Tibetan writer was deleted. In another disturbing example last week, the Facebook account of a well-known Chinese writer in exile was blocked after he posted a photograph of a nude protestor.

On December 26, Tibetan writer and activist Tsering Woeser used her Facebook page to post a report and video of a Buddhist monk’s self-immolation in Tibet, Kalsang Yeshi. Within hours, Facebook deleted the post because it allegedly violated the social media giant’s “community standards.” Four days later, Liao Yiwu, a Chinese writer who has been based in Berlin for the last four years, was locked out of his Facebook account, after posting photographs of a nude or mostly-nude protester. [1]

The two incidents follow a visit of China’s internet chief Lu Wei to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the Facebook offices in the U.S. earlier in December (2014). Photos were posted of Lu Wei, who heads up China’s systematic internet censorship operation to block information, with the Facebook CEO, who has a book by Xi Jinping prominently placed on the desk. [2]

Facebook has also come under pressure from the Kremlin, leading commentators to warn of the “end of the Facebook revolution”. A week before deleting Tsering Woeser’s post, Facebook blocked an announcement inviting Muscovites to attend a rally this month in support of anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who is about to be sentenced to a long prison term on trumped-up charges. [3]

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet said “Over the last years, Facebook has been a formidable digital platform allowing millions of people to freely share information online. The existence of freedom of expression on any media can be fully assessed only when social and political activism is taken into account. China’s ban on Facebook reflects that so far the social media’s giant had refused to apply the censorship standards typical of China’s social media. It was therefore worrying to see a video posted by Woeser about Kalsang Yeshi’s self immolation deleted by Facebook, as other recent interference with individual accounts. We are seeking a full explanation and calling on Facebook to fully uphold the freedom of expression that has become an integral part of its “brand”.

The petition can be found here.

 
Footnotes
[1] The account and all its posts were also temporarily inaccessible to other users, giving the appearance of their being deleted; it was later restored, but remains inaccessible to its owner. The images that Facebook said led to Liao’s punishment were of the Chinese activist Meng Huang, who ran through the streets of Stockholm naked on Dec. 10, as a gesture of support for the imprisoned Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo. Liao Yiwu said in an email to the Epoch Times: “I’ve returned to China.” (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1169581-facebook-locks-account-of-dissident-chinese-writer-amid-accusations-of-censorship/).

[2] http://shanghaiist.com/2014/12/09/zuckerberg_admits_love_for_xi_jinpi.php

[3] ‘End of the Facebook Revolution’ by Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, December 22, 2014: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-12-22/end-of-the-facebook-revolution

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