Date
21 January 2017
Poon Siu-to (left inset) and Yip Yat-chee think pressure from Beijing led to their Facebook accounts being suspended. Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ, Facebook
Poon Siu-to (left inset) and Yip Yat-chee think pressure from Beijing led to their Facebook accounts being suspended. Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ, Facebook

Two commentators suspect Beijing hand in Facebook suspension

Two political commentators alleged that social networking giant Facebook suspended their accounts last week because of pressure from Beijing, Apple Daily reported.

Writer Yip Yat-chee (葉一知) said he could not log on to his Facebook account last Wednesday just as some mainland netizens were waging an online war of words against their counterparts in Taiwan after Tsai Ing-wen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, was elected the island’s next president on Jan. 16.

Yip said Facebook unilaterally annulled his account on the ground that he is under 13 years of age even after he submitted a copy of his ID card as requested.

He said the “ridiculous” move made him very angry, adding that his nine-year-old account has accumulated nearly 5,000 friends and more than 10,000 followers.

Meanwhile, Poon Siu-to (潘小濤), a program host of Commercial Radio, said Facebook asked him last Wednesday to delete a post on his account criticizing Beijing’s suppression of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

He was told he would not to be able to post anything for three days until last Saturday as penalty.

Feeling helpless, Poon said it is very scary that Beijing is exercising control over Facebook messages through the social network’s complaint system.

Facebook should make the system more transparent by disclosing the identity of the complainants and the reasons for their complaints, he said.

Yip, on the other hand, suspected that Facebook suspended his account after he posted a series of comments voicing support for Tsai and seeking the truth behind the disappearance of bookseller Gui Minhai, who said he had turned himself in to mainland authorities.

His account was re-activated on Saturday night after many netizens in Hong Kong slammed Facebook’s action and filed protests to the company.

In a statement, Yip said it had never occurred to him that Facebook would help Beijing in suppressing freedom of speech in Hong Kong.

Taiwan netizens said their mainland counterparts, who had been trading barbs with them regarding the recent general elections, must have made up complaints against them and reported them to Facebook.

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TL/AC/CG

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