Twitter has locked the official account for China’s US embassy, over a tweet it said violated its policy against dehumanization, Bloomberg reports. The tweet, which was originally shared on January 7th, referred to Uighur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention. Twitter removed the tweet and replaced it with a notice saying it’s no longer available. However, Twitter requires account owners to manually delete tweets that violate its rules before unlocking accounts.
Twitter confirmed the account’s locking in a statement given to Bloomberg. “We have taken action on this Tweet for violating our policy against dehumanization,” and said the platform prohibits dehumanization of a group of people based on their “religion, caste, age, disability, serious disease, national origin, race, or ethnicity.” As of this writing, the last tweet from the Chinese Embassy in US account was from almost two weeks ago on January 9th.
China has faced fierce criticism of its treatment of minority Uighur Muslims living in the Xinjiang province, with critics alleging that it is forcibly sterilizing Uighur women. The United Nations estimates that as many as 1 million Uighurs may be held in camps in the region, Bloomberg reports. On Tuesday, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China’s treatment of the Uighurs amounts to “genocide.”
At a briefing in Beijing, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the embassy was “puzzled” by the account lock, and said the embassy was attempting to correct “fake reports and information related to Xinjiang.” In tweets that are still visible on its US page, the Chinese Embassy has shared reports and infographics relating to population growth and its policies in Xinjiang. The embassy joined Twitter in 2019, as part of a broader effort by China to counter criticism.
Twitter has previously been criticized by former President Donald Trump and his allies who claimed the social network was unfairly targeting Republicans while allowing foreign governments to violate its policies. In May 2020, in response to warning labels being placed on his tweets, Trump claimed the social network was “doing nothing about all of the lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party.”
As BBC News notes, Twitter had previously removed a tweet by Iranian Leader Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and suspended accounts associated with Cuban President Raul Castro and members of his government.