How China’s social media handles fake news about Ukraine

Douyin, Weibo, WeChat and Bilibili scramble to tackle misinformation about Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.

An image of a "no" slashed-through circle as a computer icon

The social media platforms are also cracking down particularly hard on misogynist jokes that demean Ukrainian women.

Photo: Sean Gladwell/Getty Images

Social media platforms worldwide are waging their own battles against fake news and disinformation related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Chinese social companies are no exception. In recent days, Chinese social platforms — from Douyin to Weibo, from WeChat to Bilibili — have been scrambling to remove accounts that are spreading misinformation and making warmongering remarks and vulgar jokes, including some content that seems to have endangered the lives of Chinese nationals stranded in Ukraine.

TikTok’s Chinese original version, Douyin, revealed Sunday in a post on WeChat that its short-video platform had already pulled 3,518 video clips and 12,179 comments regarding Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. It also imposed punishments, including account suspension, on almost 500 specific accounts that spread misinformation.

Weibo, one of the few Chinese online public squares, also announced Sunday that it had removed and suspended more than 10,000 accounts and deleted more than 4,000 warmongering and mocking posts about the war.

“Peace is precious,” Weibo said. “[We] once again call on everyone to keep an objective and rational attitude while paying attention to major international news, and to participate in discussions and express opinions in a reasonable manner.”

Tencent’s WeChat and video-streaming site Bilibili also joined the chorus calling for “rational” discussions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Bilibili on Sunday deleted 1,642 “inappropriate messages” and suspended and gutted 57 accounts.

In addition to cracking down on the swath of misinformation and provocative posts cheering for the war, the social media platforms are also cracking down particularly hard on misogynist jokes that demean Ukrainian women. As soon as news broke that Russia had invaded Ukraine, incels swarmed to social media, cheering for the possibility of female refugees fleeing to China from Ukraine and claiming they would happily take in those “pretty Ukraine ladies.”

The sheer volume of vulgar and pro-war jokes on Chinese social media, against the backdrop of China’s murky position on the war, has created a dangerous situation for Chinese citizens stuck in Ukraine at this time. Chinese international students and expats in Ukraine have both told Chinese state media and also expressed on social media that the sexist and lewd comments, after being translated and spread over to the wider internet, have caused anti-Chinese sentiment in Ukraine.

“I ask everyone to stop making jokes about war and stop thinking that this war has a legitimate basis and that it has nothing to do with you,” a Chinese student pleaded Saturday on Weibo. "Because of your thoughtless banter, international Chinese students might be denied refuge in bomb shelters … we now have to conceal our Chinese identity.”

China didn’t evacuate its citizens out of Ukraine before Russia’s invasion. As the 6,000 Chinese nationals left stranded in Ukraine face intensified backlash, the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine revised its safety recommendation for them. The embassy advised Chinese citizens on Saturday not to highlight their identities or display identifying symbols. This new recommendation contradicted its previous advice given just days ago, which had told Chinese nationals to display China’s flag while driving.


Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep ReadingShow less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep ReadingShow less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.


Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories