Erasing Tibet: Censorship on Chinese Video Sharing Site Youku

Dharamsala – Tibet Action Institute released a report on November 30th, 2016 titled, Erasing Tibet: Censorship on Chinese Video Sharing Site Youku, documenting censorship of Tibet-related content on the popular Chinese video sharing site Youku. All social media companies operating in China must follow rules and regulations around content filtering. However, little is known about how Youku filters content.

This report provides a first look at how Youku conducts censorship, seeking to determine which languages and content types trigger censorship. Careful testing showed that all videos related to Tibetan culture and His Holiness the Dalai Lama were blocked, and most videos with titles and descriptions in the Tibetan language were blocked. These results show that Youku systematically and aggressively censors Tibet-related content and even the Tibetan language itself.

“Youku is the highest-viewed Chinese video sharing site and yet our research indicates that Tibetan culture and even the Tibetan language are being systematically erased from view,” said Lobsang Gyatso, Tibet Action’s Digital Security Programs Manager, who conducted the research as part of the Cyber Stewards program of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. “We hope this research can be a first step to helping Tibetans develop strategies for making their voices heard despite targeted censorship.”

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