Report: Facebook Workers Are Concerned About Running Chinese Propaganda Ads

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg, 33, was called to testify after it was reported that …
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Facebook staffers are reportedly expressing their concerns on internal message boards over Chinese government ads on the social media platform, which promote a message that China’s Muslim minorities in the nation’s Xinjiang region are happy and thriving.

Facebook staffers have internally expressed their concerns about the company being used as a conduit for Chinese Communist Party propaganda, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

While Facebook is blocked in China, Beijing uses the platform to spread its political views to hundreds of millions of people in other nations through advertisements.

Sources who spoke to the Wall Street Journal said Facebook hasn’t decided whether to act in response to staff’s concerns, and is watching to see how international organizations — like the United Nations — react to the situation in Xinjiang.

A Facebook spokesman said Beijing’s ads regarding Xinjiang don’t violate the social media giant’s policies, as long as advertisers follow the company’s rules when buying them. The spokesman added that Facebook is monitoring reports of the situation in Xinjiang “to help inform our approach and due diligence on this issue.”

The advertisements and posts in question involve videos of people in Xinjiang — including some children — saying to the camera that their lives are improving and that Western nations are plotting to try to destabilize China.

The report added that a Facebook employee had posted in the company’s internal chat for Muslim staff, pointing out that the U.S. government had declared Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs a genocide.

“It’s time our platform takes action to fight misinformation on the Uighur genocide,” the Facebook employee wrote in the post, obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

The staffer described the post as a “plea to our leadership,” and tagged Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, and a top lieutenant to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Cox responded by saying that he would “circle back.”

“Thanks for looping me in,” Cox replied. “This is incredibly serious. Let me check with our integrity teams for a status update and circle back personally or with the right POC [point of contact].”

While Facebook leadership mulls over whether or not to ban Communist propaganda from its platform, the company doesn’t appear to hesitate in taking action against U.S. presidents, as Mark Zuckerberg blacklisted former President Donald Trump “indefinitely” on Facebook and Instagram earlier this year.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler @alana, and on Instagram.


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