YouTube has been automatically deleting certain Chinese-language phrases critical of China’s ruling Communist Party for months, according to a report.
But the social media behemoth told The Verge on Tuesday that it was because of an “error” and is being corrected “as soon as possible.”
“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 technology website.
An examination by The Verge found that the anti-Communist Party comments have been removed as early as October 2019 when the matter was raised on YouTube’s official help pages.
According to comments about some videos or live streams, the words “共匪” (“communist bandit”) or “五毛” (“50-cent party”) were automatically deleted in around 15 seconds, but the English language translations and the Romanized Pinyin pronunciation of the Chinese characters were not.
The term “共匪” is an insult that dates back decades to China’s Nationalist government.
“五毛,” (or “wu mao”) is a derogatory term for internet users paid to direct online discussions critical of the Communist Party and refers to claims that they receive 50 Chinese cents per post.
The Verge report suggests the phrases were added to YouTube’s filters that remove spam and offensive comments.
And they are even being struck if they are used in a positive way.
YouTube said it has been relying on automated filters because of changes to its workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The report remarked that the censorship is puzzling because YouTube, which is owned by Google, is blocked in China.