HONG KONG – Facebook Inc. is blocked in China, but Beijing is a big user of the platform to spread its political views to hundreds of millions of people abroad, sometimes through advertisements.
Some Facebook employees are now raising concerns in internal bulletin boards and other employee discussions that the company is being used as a state propaganda channel, highlighting sponsored posts from Chinese organizations claiming to show the Uighur Muslim ethnic minorities thriving in the Chinese region. Xinjiang, according to acquaintances.
The United States and some European governments say Beijing is committing genocide against Uighurs, citing a campaign that includes political indoctrination, mass internment and forced sterilization.
Facebook has not decided whether to take action on the concerns, say insiders. The company is monitoring how international organizations such as the United Nations are responding to the situation in Xinjiang, one person said. The UN this week called on companies doing business in Xinjiang to undertake a “substantial human rights review”
A Facebook spokesman said Beijing’s Xinjiang ads did not violate current rules, as long as advertisers followed Facebook’s rules when buying them. He said the company monitors reports on the situation in Xinjiang “to help us inform about our approach and due diligence on this issue.”