Zoom, a video-conferencing company, closed the account of Zhou Fengsuo, a former student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, after he hosted a commemoration event for the protests’ 31st anniversary through his U.S.-based nonprofit, Humanitarian China’s paid account.
New: Zoom closed an account used by U.S.-based Chinese activists, after they held an event marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre.
— B. Allen-Ebrahimian (@BethanyAllenEbr) June 10, 2020
According to Axios, the event had over 250 attendees and speakers such as “mothers of students killed during the 1989 crackdown, organizers of Hong Kong’s Tiananmen candlelight vigil, and others.”
Zhou’s account cancellation, which came just a few days after the online event, was reportedly without warning. According to Zhou, on June 7th he received a message on his screen that his account had been closed. When he tried to follow up with the company, he was unable to obtain a response.
“We are outraged by this act from Zoom, a U.S company,” Zhou said to Axios. “As the most commercially popular meeting software worldwide, Zoom is essential as an unbanned outreach to Chinese audiences remembering and commemorating Tiananmen Massacre during the coronavirus pandemic.”
This is not the first time Zoom has run into trouble over its discriminatory policies and ties to China. In a report published by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, researchers found that “while Zoom is headquartered in the United States, and listed on the NASDAQ, the mainline Zoom app appears to be developed by three companies in China” which all share the same name. The study also found that encryption and decryption information was being carried through servers in Beijing, China which “presents a clear target to reasonably well-resourced nation state attackers, including the People’s Republic of China.”
Zhou’s trouble with the company is not the first time that Zoom shut down an account from an activist with pro-democracy ties. According to Axios, pro-democracy activist and former Hong Kong politician Lee Cheuk Yan also lost access to his account earlier in the year for an unknown reason.