Facebook Faces Internal Criticism Over Promoting China State Propaganda On Uyghurs: WSJ
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) employees have raised concerns over China’s use of the social media platform to spread state propaganda about its Uyghur minority population, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
What Happened: Some Facebook employees have raised concerns on internal message boards that sponsored advertisements and posts from Chinese organizations on the platform show Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs thriving in China’s Xinjiang region, according to the WSJ report.
While China’s government is a big user of Facebook, the social media giant has been blocked in the country since 2009. However, Facebook’s revenue from advertisers in China may exceed $5 billion a year, the WSJ reported, citing some research-firm analysts who study digital advertising.
Facebook has not decided whether to act on the concerns but is watching how international organizations such as the United Nations react to the situation in Xinjiang, as per the report.
A Facebook spokesman was quoted by the Journal as saying that the ads taken out by Beijing pertaining to Xinjiang do not violate current policies so long as the advertisers comply with Facebook’s rules when buying them.
Why It Matters: Worries about the Chinese ads come amid mounting criticism of China from around the world for mass internment camps and forced sterilization campaigns of the mostly Muslim Uyghur population in Xinjiang. China has denied any human rights violation in Xinjiang and says its actions are necessary to end threats of terrorism and religious extremism in the region.
Very few multinational companies have directly addressed the issue of China’s treatment of its Uyghur population. Last month, Swedish multinational clothing retailer H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB (OTC: HMRZF) came under attack by the Chinese government for its decision to stop sourcing cotton from Xinjiang following reports of forced labor from the region.
It was reported in March that Facebook disrupted a China-based espionage campaign that attempted to spy on Uyghur Muslim journalists, dissidents and activists living in the U.S. and other countries.
In January, Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) said it locked the account of China’s embassy in the United States over a tweet about Uighur women. Twitter and Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) are also banned in China.
Price Action: Facebook shares closed 1.4% higher on Thursday at $298.66.
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