A video recorded by Sharon Wehrwein in Chicago shows Google Voice Typing for Simplified Chinese on a Samsung S9 blocking the word “Falun (法轮)” when attempting to voice type several phrases related to Falun Gong – a Buddhist-based practice of meditation and moral living that’s heavily persecuted and censored by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In the video, Wehrwein tries to voice-type “Falun Dafa,” “Falun Gong,” “Falun Dafa is wonderful,” and “Zhuan Falun” (one of the main books containing the teachings of Falun Gong) but each time, the “Falun” part of the phrase is replaced with “****”.
After attempting to voice type “Falun” as part of these phrases, Wehrwein said she thinks it’s “very likely” the word has been blocked by Google.
Human rights activist Jennifer Zeng, who also published the video, also wrote: “I suspect that Google is doing this under the instruction of the CCP.”
According to Falun Dafa Infocenter, the press office for Falun Gong and a primary resource for information about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, the CCP’s persecution of the group is one of the largest campaigns of religious persecution in the world over the last 20 years with millions of people being detained, hundreds of thousands being tortured, and thousands confirmed dead.
The publication of this video comes a few weeks after Zeng noticed that Google-owned YouTube was auto-censoring some phrases that criticized the Chinese government.
After the news of YouTube censoring these phrases started to get mainstream attention, the platform fixed the issue and blamed the censorship on an “error” in its enforcement systems.
Earlier this month, YouTube also demonetized Zeng’s entire channel where she often posts videos that are critical of the CCP.
Before these recent reports surfaced, Google faced years of scrutiny over its work on Project Dragonfly – a censored version of Google Search which was designed to blacklist information about democracy, human rights, peaceful protest, religion, and more on behalf of the CCP.
In July 2019, the vice president of public policy at Google, Karan Bhatia, told the US Senate Judiciary Committee that work on Project Dragonfly had been “terminated.”