China’s U.S. embassy is locked out of Twitter for dehumanizing Uighur women

A spokesperson for the country called the decision a double standard. It's not.

The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The “Chinese Embassy in US” Twitter account has been suspended after posting a derogatory message about Uighur women, Bloomberg reports. The page, which is marked as an official China government account on Twitter, has not tweeted since January 9.

Twitter locked the embassy’s account after it referred to Uighur women as “baby-making machines.” The tweet has been hidden and replaced by a notice saying it is no longer available. According to Twitter’s policies, the embassy will need to manually delete the tweet before its account can be reinstated.

Twitter confirmed to Bloomberg that the account had been locked. “We have taken action on this Tweet for violating our policy against dehumanization,” the company said, and explained that this policy prohibits the “dehumanization of a group of people based on their religion, caste, age, disability, serious disease, national origin, race, or ethnicity.”

Lately, we’ve seen a huge uptick in reports of Big Tech benefiting from the fruits of forced Uighur labor. Twitter isn’t exactly making a statement about that trend — but there’s certainly merit in the company upholding its policies in relation to this minority group.

Who? Us? Never — China, it seems, was taken aback by the embassy’s account being locked. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said today that authorities were “puzzled” about the account’s restrictions. She added that it’s the embassy’s responsibility to correct “fake reports and information related to Xinjiang.”

The embassy account, which was created in June 2019, has tweeted more than 2,000 times and amassed a following of just over 81,200. The account’s recent tweets do indeed focus on information about the Xinjiang region of China, where many Uighur live and work.

“We hope Twitter can adhere to objective and fair principles and not display double standards on this issue,” Chunying said at a briefing.

Policy, not vendetta — Contrary to what the Chinese government says here, locking down the embassy’s account is not a practice in double standards. It’s instead exactly what Chunying calls for: objective and fair principles. Twitter’s policies explicitly state that you can’t use its platform to dehumanize a group of people; how else would you categorize publicly calling Uighur women “baby-making machines”?

It’s the same argument many have tried — and failed — to make in the last year or so: that conservative voices are being silenced by social media companies like Twitter. That line of thinking prevails, despite being proven false many times over.

Twitter has been more steadfast than usual in upholding its policies, especially when those breaking them are powerful public figures. There’s still more work to be done, though — the embassy’s hateful message was left up for at least a day before being hidden.