An American technology company swiftly responded to concerns that its free dictation tool was censoring a peaceful spiritual practice that has been brutally persecuted in mainland China.
Google LLC was accused of automatically blocking traditional Asian terminology from Falun Dafa, a peaceful practice that has five standing exercises and meditation based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Sharon Wehrwein shared a video that appears to show the Google Voice Typing application repeatedly hiding the words ‘Falun’ which means law wheel in Chinese. The Fa or law is what practitioners of Falun Dafa live by.
“This morning I was trying to add something to the notebook on my cellphone … so when I tried to say ‘Falun Dafa,’ the first two Chinese characters making up the word ‘Falun’ did not show,” she said on the video shared on YouTube.
The Chicagoan, who used a Samsung Galaxy S9 running on Android, once again tried to dictate the words “Falun Dafa” and the practice’s main book called “Zhuan Falun.” She found the word ‘Falun’ were instantly replaced by several asterisks.
“I tried many times something else but also with always the two words [Chinese characters] ‘Falun’ [but] the two words never showed,” she said. “That only showed two stars … Zhuan Falun is Falun Dafa’s major book so the[re are] two keywords, the first word means turning ‘Zhuan’ but ‘Falun’ did not show again.”
Wehrwein retested the app, this time with a Chinese phrase meaning ‘Falun Dafa is great’ but the same two words were once again replaced by asterisks.
“[After dictating ‘Falun Gong,’ the words] ‘Falun’ did not show again, let us try it one more time,” she said. “‘Falun Dafa hao,’ the result is the same, the first two words ‘Falun’ did not show.”
She believes the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) influenced Google’s enforcement team to blacklist the words. The CCP has arbitrarily detained, tortured, organ harvested, and killed at least 4,363 adherents who refused to renounce their beliefs as early as 1999 according to the Minghui website.
“I think very likely the two words are blocked by Google,” she said.
However, the tech giant described the censorship as a fault in the app and resolved the technical issue, allowing users to dictate the words ‘Falun.’
“Upon review by our teams, we have confirmed this was an error in our enforcement systems and we are working to fix it as quickly as possible,” the company said according to Computing Magazine.
Human rights author Jennifer Zeng suspected the CCP could have used economic blackmail to pressure Google into censoring Falun Dafa terminology, and shared a link to a history of the ongoing persecution published on the Falun Dafa Information Center website.
“This video is recorded by a lady in Chicago, showing that when she tried to use her Samsung S9 to voice type ‘Falun Dafa,’ ‘Zhuan Falun,’ ‘Falun Gong,’ and ‘Falun Dafa is wonderful,’ the word ‘Falun’ did not show up,” she said on Twitter. “Instead, it became ‘****.’ If you are curious why this lady suspects that ‘Falun’ is blocked by Google (and why I suspect that Google is doing this under the instruction of the CCP), check this [website.]”