Last Updated on May 15, 2020
Google-owned tech giant YouTube is reportedly algorithmically censoring the anti-Chinese Communist Party phrase “gongfei” in the comments section of YouTube videos.
Gongfei, or “共匪“ in Chinese, is an anti-communist insult that translates to “communist bandit” or “communist gangster” that has historically been directed at the CCP, and has recently seen a resurgence in use by activists in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
YouTuber and blogger Jennifer Zeng posted a videoto Twitter on Wednesday that appeared to show comments containing the “communist bandit” insult being deleted in real time on YouTube.
“#YouTube “automatically” deletes a comment in Chinese, “Gongfei”, which means “communist bandit”, in 15 seconds. This person tested 3 times, same result. #油管 The “Communist Bandits” message is automatically deleted within 15 seconds, even if the netizens try it three times. Did they find an AI expert better than Li Feifei?” Zeng tweeted.
#YouTube "automatically" deletes a comment in Chinese, "Gongfei", which means "communist bandit", in 15 seconds.
This person tested 3 times, same result. #油管 15秒內自動刪除「共匪」留言，網友連試三次皆如此。
— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) May 13, 2020
Multiple Twitter users confirmed they experienced the same result when typing the phrase into YouTube comments, and English-speaking Reddit users also confirmed the existence of the issue.
The comment deletion issue appears to be prominent in the mobile and app versions of the site, while users on the desktop browser could still see their comments in some cases. Adding additional text to the phrase in a comment also appears to circumvent the censor.
One user asked Google about the issue on the Google Support forum: “共匪 = communist bandit or communist bandits. in Chinese. Now anyone who writes a comment on youtube which has this Chinese word “共匪” will be automatically deleted. Many people have tried it, even if they just write : 共匪 in the comment. that comment will be deleted right away. I want to know why this word is a forbidden word to use? this is not even a swear word. Are we not allowed to anti-Chinese communist party now?”
The question was locked and left unanswered by Google, and replies to the question were disabled.
This week, reports surfaced that Google may soon start scaling back “diversity” programs in an effort to be seen as less “anti-conservative.”