Instagram censored artwork that criticized the Chinese government before backtracking and apologizing. The artist took to Twitter and expressed his disdain over the fact that his freedom of speech was violated, and that the people sending him death threats remained uncensored.
A vocal and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, known under the pseudonym Badiucao had recently posted an anti-Beijing artwork where the former chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong was mounting an emu and a kangaroo.
The artwork featuring the Chinese communist leader deemed responsible for nearly 45 million deaths was banned by Instagram on the grounds of violating community standards.
“Yesterday, Instagram notified me that one of my art was removed from its platform for going against its guidelines. However, in the meantime, Instagram has not addressed my report on death threats against me on its platform,” tweeted Badiucao.
4/ This is the art got removed by @Instagram. It uses a classic China propaganda style to depict the China‘s threat and interference on Australia. Recently，many anti-democracy rally are organized by China’s nationalists against Hong Kong‘s protest and demand for freedom pic.twitter.com/FaPEaG6R3C
— 巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao) August 18, 2019
He attached a screenshot of an Instagram user abusing him, and threatening to kill him. Badiucao said that the social media company had violated his freedom of expression, and is similarly suppressing the free speech of several people speaking against China and expressing their dissent.
Badiucao further added that Instagram didn’t address the death threats he received as the company believed that they didn’t violate the community rules and standards. In an interesting turn of events, Facebook ended up writing to the artist and apologizing for removing his artwork; the tech giant also mentioned that the post was now restored.
“It looks like we made a mistake and removed something you posted on Instagram that didn’t go against our Community Standards. We want to apologize and let you know that we’ve restored your content,” wrote Facebook.
Badiucao, who was originally from Shanghai, now resides in Australia. A harsh critic of the communist nation, Badiucao said that speaking against China was a risky venture and that he felt unsafe and threatened several times in the past.
For a long time, Badiucao wore a mask and kept his identity unknown; however, his identity was compromised, and he had to subsequently reveal himself.
After the whole Instagram post removal and restoration took place, Facebook and Twitter ended up banning nearly 1000 accounts accusing them of propaganda with regards to the ongoing Hong Kong protests.