Facebook is letting China run state ads denying the abuse of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang
- Facebook staff want leadership to address ads the Chinese government is running on the platform, per a new report.
- The ads claim life in the region of Xinjiang is happy, and that Western nations are trying to undermine China.
- Multiple reports from the region have detailed mass detention centers and sexual violence against Uyghur Muslims.
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Facebook employees are uneasy about ads the Chinese government is running on the platform about life in Xinjiang, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The region of Xinjiang is home to most of China's Uyghur Muslim ethnic minority. In February the UN's human rights chief said there was a need for a "independent and comprehensive assessment" of human rights in Xinjiang following reports of mass detention centers, sexual violence, and forced labor. The Biden administration has accused Beijing of "genocide" against the Uyghur.
The ads show people saying their lives in Xinjiang are improving, and that Western countries are trying to destabilize China, per the Journal. Facebook is banned in mainland China, but the Chinese government can take out ads.
According to the Journal, Facebook employees first raised complaints about the ads in an internal forum for Muslim staff.
"It's time our platform takes action to fight misinformation on the Uighur genocide," one employee wrote. The same employee tagged chief product officer Chris Cox in their post. Cox replied, saying: "This is incredibly serious. Let me check with our integrity teams for a status update and circle back personally or with the right POC."
It's not clear from the Journal's report whether Cox followed up on the post.
A Facebook spokesman told Insider that "these ads do not violate our current policies. We're monitoring reports of the situation in Xinjiang to help inform our approach and due diligence on this issue. We're committed to respecting human rights principles."
Sources familiar with the matter told the Journal that staff are concerned that the Facebook ads form part of China's propaganda machine denying the abuses in Xinjiang. China has even produced a musical portraying the region as an idyllic place.
Sources told the Journal that Facebook had not yet decided whether to act on staff concerns, and one said the company was waiting to see how international organizations such as the UN deal with the situation in Xinjiang.
The UN began negotiations with Beijing on March 29 to organize a no-restrictions visit to Xinjiang.
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