Zoom censorship

The issue of Zoom censorship of users in both the US, China, and in Hong Kong, is becoming a big topic – and the company is failing to answer basic questions.

The issue broke with yesterday’s original Axios report of a U.S. based paid Zoom account shuttered for doing an online Tiananmen conference with participants from China, including a prominent Tiananmen Mother, Zhang Xianling, and Dong Shengkun, a factory worker who spent 17 years in jail for his participation in the 1989 pro-democracy protests. See:

Zoom closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law”. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Axios, June 10, 2020. (updated with a vague company response)

The journalist who broke the story, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, tells on Twitter about the Zoom company PR department now flooding her with demands for “corrections” and “updates” – but, Zoom is still not answering her basic questions about exactly what authorities told the company to shutter the account and exactly on what grounds:

One account surfaced today of a noted China scholar at the US Council of Foreign Relations being cut off mid-sentence, for speaking of the wrong topics, including the Uyghurs.

And lots of other media picking this up – including with more cases of accounts shuttered or interrupted, clearly on demand from the Chinese machine, such as, the Hong Kong activist Lee Cheuk Yan whose Zoom account was terminated half an hour before a meeting were to start, on Hong Kong issues. See media reports:

Zoom censors video talks on Hong Kong and Tiananmen, drawing criticism (Washington Post)
Zoom shuts accounts of activists holding Tiananmen Square and Hong Kong events (The Guardian)
Zoom Blocks Activist in U.S. After China Objects to Tiananmen Vigil (NYT)
Zoom caught in China censorship crossfire as meetings foiled (Washington Post)
Zoom closes account of US-based Chinese dissidents after Tiananmen conference (SCMP)
PEN America Condemns Shuttering of Chinese Activists’ Zoom Account (PEN America)

  • More on Twitter:

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian 1
Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian 2
Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian 3
Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian 4
Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian 5
Bill Bishop
Zhou Fengsuo
Owen Churchill 

I personally think our universities and schools, as bastions of free inquiry, must switch away from Zoom to other platforms. Zoom is clearly compromised.

Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

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