The World Health Assembly (WHA) unfolds online this year between Nov. 9 and Nov. 14, but Taiwan has found itself on the other side of the door again despite its relative success in its fight against COVID-19.
The snub became even more apparent following Wednesday’s virtual meeting when Taiwanese and members of the foreign community discovered that the word, “Taiwan,” was censored and prohibited from being posted in the comment section.
Freelance journalist William Yang, tweeted early Thursday morning, “Multiple sources, including myself, found that @WHO’s official Facebook account seems to have blocked any comment containing the word “#Taiwan” to go through. What is this deal? Censorship?”
Social media users immediately tried their own hand and were furious when a red text box and the words, “unable to post a comment” appeared below the word “Taiwan.”
WHO’s censorship against Taiwan immediately spread online, which elicited an angry comment from Taiwan’s representative in the U.S., Hsiao Bi-Khim, who replied: “If that is true, it would be an outrage to see the WHO and Facebook teaming up to do China’s dirty work of censoring the success story in the fight against COVID-19.”
Her comment led many social media users to create memes mocking and hinting at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and WHO’s seemingly compliance and partiality for China’s political agenda against Taiwan.
Refusing to be silenced, Taiwanese and foreign social media users have now found ways to dodge the filters, including omitting space between words (i.e. Taiwancanhelp) and using symbols to separate the letters (i.e. T/A/I/W/A/N).
This incident comes following a meeting on Tuesday when WHO moderators repeatedly cut off allies from the U.S., Eswatini and Palau who praised Taiwan’s virus-prevention efforts and called for the nation’s inclusion into the WHO.