Censorship storm as YouTube bans Alliance for True Democracy ad

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 3:36am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 9:46am

Video-sharing website YouTube is facing a political censorship row after it banned an advertisement created by the Alliance for True Democracy to promote its proposal for the 2017 chief executive election.

The alliance uploaded the 92-second clip on Friday and paid for it to run as an advertisement in front of other videos for viewers in Hong Kong.

It received an email two days later from YouTube saying that the ad had been removed because it did not comply with the website's policy. The reason for the disapproval was "political advertising - China", according to the email.

"[We are] surprised by Google's decision, and condemn its rejection of advertisements promoting democracy due to its acceptance of the unreasonable censorship policy of the Chinese government," the alliance said.

The video, featuring alliance convenor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, was intended to encourage Hongkongers to vote in this week's poll organised by the Occupy Central movement on electoral reform. Every registered voter will be allowed to join the three-day poll, which will decide which model for reform the civil disobedience movement will endorse. The alliance's plan is one of three on the shortlist.

Watch: Alliance for True Democracy ad

The alliance released the email it received from YouTube. In it, the California-based website says: "After reviewing your account, we found that one or more of your ads or keywords have been disapproved.

"Until you edit your ads or keywords … your ads unfortunately won't be able to show up."

Chang said the alliance, which represents 26 of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers, would not bow to pressure.

"There are still many other online channels on which we can promote our proposal," he added.

YouTube did not respond to a request for comment last night.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks halted a trial of the electronic voting system for the Occupy vote at the weekend. The University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, which was commissioned to run the poll, said the attack was intended to paralyse the voting system, but data had not been tampered with.

HKU had expressed confidence its system could withstand cyberattacks after a mock election for chief executive in 2012 suffered at the hands of hackers. Occupy's poll begins on Friday.