Zoom reinstates accounts linked to Tiananmen Square events

After being accused of placating China for disabling accounts of three human rights activists linked to events to mark Tiananmen Square anniversary events, US-based video conferencing platform Zoom has reinstated these accounts.

“Recent articles in the media about adverse actions we took toward Lee Cheuk-yan, Wang Dan, and Zhou Fengsuo have some calling into question our commitment to being a platform for an open exchange of ideas and conversations,” Zoom said in a blog post on Thursday.

“To be clear, their accounts have been reinstated, and going forward, we will have a new process for handling similar situations,” it added.

Zoom said it made mistakes in handling the situation which arose out of the platform’s inability to block participants by country.

“We could have anticipated this need. While there would have been significant repercussions, we also could have kept the meetings running,” Zoom said.

One of the suspended or terminated accounts was in Hong Kong and two in the US.

“Our response should not have impacted users outside of mainland China,” the platform said, while admitting its mistake.

Saying that it seeks to promote the open exchange of ideas, the platform added, “The reality is Zoom operates in more than 80 countries and continues to expand, which requires compliance with local laws…”.

China takes the Tiananmen Square anniversary events very seriously as they mark protests against the killing of hundreds of people on June 4, 1989, as a result of crack down on pro-democracy protesters.

The Chinese government informed Zoom in May and early June of this year about four large, public June 4th commemoration meetings on the platform that were being publicised on social media, including meeting details.

“Zoom does not currently have the ability to remove specific participants from a meeting or block participants from a certain country from joining a meeting. As such, we made the decision to end three of the four meetings and suspended or terminated the host accounts associated with the three meetings,” Zoom said.

“For one of the meetings, even though the Chinese authorities demanded we take action, we chose to keep the meeting undisturbed because it did not have any participants from mainland China,” it added.