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Zoom comes clean for removing Tiananmen Square activists after facing flak, reinstates accounts

Zoom in a blog post admitted to its mistake of removing activists' accounts from the platform.

twitter-logo Yasmin Ahmed   New Delhi     Last Updated: June 12, 2020  | 18:22 IST

Highlights

  • Zoom has reinstated the Tiananmen Square activists’ account.
  • It said that the platform works in 80 countries and sometimes has to comply with local laws.
  • Zoom further admitted its mistake and said it should not have removed accounts outside of mainland China.

After facing criticism for removing three activists from its platform, Zoom has admitted that it fell short on the way it took action by removing the activists from the platform and reinstated their accounts.

In a blog post, Zoom stated, "Recent articles in the media about adverse actions we took toward Lee Cheuk-yan, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo have some calling into question our commitment to being a platform for an open exchange of ideas and conversations.To be clear, their accounts have been reinstated, and going forward we will have a new process for handling similar situations."

"We shut down the meetings instead of blocking the participants by country. We could have anticipated this need. While there would have been significant repercussions, we also could have kept the meetings running," Zoom added.

One of the suspended or terminated accounts was in Hong Kong and two in the US.

"Our response should not have impacted users outside of mainland China," the platform said, while admitting its mistake.

"Zoom does not currently have the ability to remove specific participants from a meeting or block participants from a certain country from joining a meeting. As such, we made the decision to end three of the four meetings and suspended or terminated the host accounts associated with the three meetings," Zoom said.

Zoom further said that it operates in more than 80 countries and continues to expand, which requires compliance with local laws even as Zoom seeks to promote the open exchange of ideas.

Zoom said that in May and early June, they were notified by the Chinese government about "four large, public June 4th commemoration meetings on Zoom that were being publicized on social media, including meeting details."

Zoom said that the Chinese government informed them about the activity being illegal in China and demanded that Zoom terminate the meetings and host accounts.

Zoom said that it did not provide any user information or meeting content to the Chinese government. "We do not have a backdoor that allows someone to enter a meeting without being visible," Zoom stated.

"For one of the meetings, even though the Chinese authorities demanded we take action, we chose to keep the meeting undisturbed because it did not have any participants from mainland China," it added.

Humanitarian China, the China-centric non-profit group alleged that its paid Zoom account was closed after its members held a conference commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre. The group alleged that Zoom placated the Chinese government.

Tiananmen Square anniversary events are a big deal in China as they mark protests against the killing of hundreds of people on June 4, 1989, as a result of crack down on pro-democracy protesters.

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