DHARAMSHALA, DEC. 1: Tibet related contents on a prominent video sharing site in China is being censored “aggressively and systematically” in order to limit awareness and information on Tibet and Tibetan related issues, according to a new research paper by the US based Tibet Action Institute.
“Although content blockage on issues related to Tibet by China is a known fact, the dynamics within the digital world and blockage filters used to enable the censorship is largely unknown,” research author and Tibet Action’s Digital Security Programs Manager, Lobsang Gyatso Sither, told Phayul.
In the 10 page study ‘Erasing Tibet: Censorship on Chinese Video Sharing Site Youku’ conducted as part of the Cyber Stewards program of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto expounds on how China’s largest video sharing site blocks any content of Tibet or Tibetan related posts.
Videos that have Tibetan language description are almost certain to be blocked indicating that Tibetan language is also being censored on the site. The paper read, “Language also proved to be a reliable trigger for censorship. Of the videos with descriptions and titles in Tibetan, 96% of the uploads, regardless of content, resulted in either a “Shielded” or “Transcoding Issue” error message. However, we found that a video on nonviolent action in English with titles and description in Tibetan was not censored, which shows that the platform can support Tibetan text.”
Tibetan culture related videos and videos of the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama are also blocked immediately with key word such as “Dalai Lama” and “Tibetan independence” prime among banned list. On a scale, videos related to Dalai Lama and non-violent movements whether related to Tibet or not have “very high probability” of being blocked, the study mentioned.
“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. We hope this research can be a first step to helping Tibetans develop strategies for making their voices heard despite targeted censorship,” Lobsang added.
Youko which is equivalent to YouTube in China like any other site in China is bound by content filtering directives from the government. The largest video sharing site has over 500 million active users monthly and 800 million daily video views.