The popular videoconferencing platform Zoom is under fire after the U.S. company shut down an account used by dissidents in the United States and China to host an online vigil marking the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
On Wednesday, after a public complaint was issued by the group Humanitarian China, Zoom — one of the few U.S. tech company platforms allowed to operate in China — had restored the accounts that had been blocked since June 7.
“Like any global company, Zoom must comply with laws in the countries where we operate,” the company said in a statement, expressing regret that a “few recent meetings” involving people inside and outside China were negatively impacted and “important conversations were disrupted.”
“Our platform is increasingly supporting complex, cross-border conversations, for which the compliance with the laws of multiple countries is very difficult.”
Both Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, even though Chinese diplomats use both platforms to spread Chinese government propaganda abroad.
Humanitarian China held the online vigil on its Zoom account May 31. The Tiananmen meeting brought together some 250 people — with another 4,000 streaming the sessions via social media — to mark the events of June 4, 1989, when pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square were brutally suppressed by Chinese military forces.
China has banned all references to the protests and the crackdown in its propaganda and social media outlets. The U.S. government estimates that hundreds to perhaps thousands of people were killed by tanks and armored vehicles and shooting by troops.