YouTube took down several videos from a human rights organization’s channel, which was attempting to document human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province, for violating its anti-harassment policy, reported.
On June 15th, Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights said the Google-owned video platform disabled its channel entirely, telling the group it had received too many strikes against its channel for videos where people displayed identification cards showing they were related to missing Xinjiang residents. That apparently broke YouTube’s rule against displaying personal information, which led to the videos’ removal. The channel was restored three days later, according to Reuters.
YouTube reportedly asked Atajurt to cut out or conceal the IDs in the videos, but the channel’s administrator said they didn’t want to do so out of concern that such action would damage its credibility. Atajurt has been praised by organizations including Human Rights Watch for helping to expose human rights violations. According to , Atajurt posts testimonies from the family members of people detained in Chinese internment camps in Xinjiang.
Most of the videos that were removed have been restored following appeals, but some remained unviewable, and according to Reuters, Atajurt is backing up its videos on blockchain-based video platform Odysee.
Google didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on Sunday, but told MIT Technology Review that it welcomes “responsible efforts to document important human rights cases around the world.” YouTube has “strict policies that prohibit harassment… including doxing,” which is why it doesn’t allow personally identifiable information to be published.
A June 10th report from Amnesty International found that the Chinese government had conducted state-organized persecution, including torture, against people in Xinjiang provice in western China, including Uyghurs and Kazakhs. The United Nations has estimated that at least 1 million Uyghurs are being held in internment camps in China, a claim that China has disputed.