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YouTube is automatically deleting comments which insult China's Communist Party

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 28 May 2020 Print

YouTube is automatically deleting comments which insult China's Communist Party

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New York: Popular video sharing platform YouTube has admitted that it automatically deleted comments which criticised  China’s ruling Communist Party (CCP).

The company confirmed to The Verge this was happening in error and that it’s working to fix the issue.

“Upon review by our teams, we have confirmed this was an error in our enforcement systems and we are working to fix it as quickly as possible,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Verge.

The company did not elaborate how the error started.

However, YouTube, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, said it was not the result of any change in its moderation policy.

But if the deletions are the result of a simple mistake, then it’s one that’s gone unnoticed for six months. The Verge found evidence that comments were being deleted as early as October 2019, when the issue was raised on YouTube’s official help pages and multiple users confirmed that they had experienced the same problem.

Comments left under videos or in live streams that contain the words “共匪” (“communist bandit”) or “五毛” (“50-cent party”) are automatically deleted in around 15 seconds, though their English language translations and Romanized Pinyin equivalents are not, reported The Verge.

Interestingly, YouTube is blocked in China.

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey on Tuesday tweeted: "YouTube has deleted every comment I ever made about the Wumao (五毛), an internet propaganda division of the Chinese Communist Party. Who at Google decided to censor American comments on American videos hosted in America by an American platform that is already banned in China?"

He further said: "This appears to be a new global policy on YouTube, not directed at me specifically. Try saying anything negative about the 五毛, or even mentioning them at all. Your comment will last about 30 seconds and get deleted without warning or notice, CCP-censor style. To what end?"

Human Rights activist Jennifer Zeng also commented on the matter and tweeted: "#YouTube 'automatically' deletes a comment in Chinese, 'Gongfei', which means "communist bandit", in 15 seconds. This person tested 3 times, same result. #油管 15秒內自動刪除「共匪」留言,網友連試三次皆如此。他們找了個比李飛飛更厲害的AI專家"

The incident happened at a time when China is facing wrath of various nations over the allegation that the deadly COVID-19 virus originated from Wuhan region in the country.