YouTube and its parent company Google targeted a video about the suspicious disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai by journalists Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball on Thursday, in a continuation of the tech company’s running interference for communist China.
In a 10-minute “Breaking Points” video titled “Chinese Tennis Star VANISHES After Rape Accusation,” Enjeti and Ball discuss Shuai’s allegations that China’s former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her. “After she posted that, overnight, she was disappeared from the Chinese social media,” Enjeti says in the video.
Enjeti also noted that a Chinese state media outlet had released a statement purported to be from Shuai, denying the allegations and insisting, “I’m not missing” and “everything is fine.”
“I hope to promote Chinese tennis with you all if I have a chance in the future,” the statement continued. Enjeti said the statement only increased concerns of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) about Shuai’s statements.
“Reports are that if you even post about her or about this official or even say things like ‘tennis’ on … their version of Twitter, then that will be censored and blocked,” Ball added, noting that Shuai’s original post alleging the assault was taken down by Chinese censors within 30 minutes.
But after “Breaking Points” posted the video about censorship in communist China, Enjeti said YouTube notified the journalists that their video had been found not “suitable for all advertisers” and “as a result, it will continue to run limited or no ads.”
The notification also said the video had been “manually review[ed],” confirming that no accidental algorithmic error was responsible.
The incident isn’t the first time Google has worked in tandem with Chinese censors. The Intercept reported in 2018 that Google would be introducing “Project Dragonfly,” a censored search engine in China, “which will block searches related to free speech, human rights, and democracy” and “reportedly link any searches entered by a user directly to his or her phone number, allowing Chinese authorities to easily track citizens seeking out blacklisted information,” as Mitchell Gunter wrote for The Federalist at the time.
The same summer, Google refused to work with U.S. authorities at the Pentagon when the company “announced it wouldn’t renew a contract to do artificial intelligence work for the U.S. military after some strong opposition from its employees.”
Censorship of Enjeti and Ball’s video is also only the latest in a long line of censorship by Google and YouTube. In September, Google moved to ban advertisements about abortion pill reversal by pro-life groups like Live Action. Earlier this year, Google-owned YouTube deplatformed another pro-life group, LifeSiteNews.
In June 2020, YouTube removed a video from the Heritage Foundation in which Walt Heyer discussed his regret over his transgender-identifying past.
That same month, Google colluded with NBC News in an attempt to deplatform The Federalist, which Google then claimed was based on content in the comments section of The Federalist’s articles.
In 2019, Google barred the conservative Claremont Institute from buying ads for its 40th-anniversary gala. And when the pro-life film “Unplanned” came out, Google labeled it “Propaganda” while leaving a “History/War” label on an actual Nazi propaganda video from 1935.
YouTube has also censored Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for challenging the effectiveness of cloth masks and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson for discussing the early treatment of COVID-19. Other content targeted by the video platform includes all videos highlighting voter fraud, videos of former President Donald Trump’s speech at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference, and videos- about COVID-19 from Sky News Australia.
Elle Reynolds is an assistant editor at The Federalist, and received her B.A. in government from Patrick Henry College with a minor in journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.