YouTube has been accused of putting in place an algorithm which removed comments containing Chinese phrases historically used by those critical of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP].
A video of comments containing the slang being removed from YouTube was uploaded by Jennifer Zeng, a Chinese human rights activist and author, on May 13th. The video shows comments containing the offending phrases simply disappearing seconds after having been made.
#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
Since then numerous other individuals and organizations around the world have replicated the finding, seeming to show that YouTube was censoring the terms globally.
YouTube has deleted every comment I ever made about the Wumao (五毛), an internet propaganda division of the Chinese Communist Party. Who at Google decided to censor American comments on American videos hosted in America by an American platform that is already banned in China?
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) May 26, 2020
According to the Verge the censorship has been happening since October 2019, with users writing of the issue on YouTube’s official help pages.
YouTube is banned within mainland China, leading some to question why they would censor comments critical of the CCP, but others have pointed out that YouTube remains popular in China, despite being banned, and that YouTube is available in Taiwan.