The West must do more to protect Uyghurs from China’s online harassment

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November 17, 2021

The recent testimony by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haughen revealed that Big Tech is failing to protect its users from malign actors. Uyghurs, long persecuted by China’s government, have proven to be especially vulnerable. 

In March 2021, some 500 Uyghur Facebook accounts were infected with malware embedded by Chinese government-adjacent hackers. While the company alerted the individuals affected, Haughen was quick to note in a Senate hearing that Facebook’s counterespionage team has been consistently understaffed, putting users at risk. Lack of disclosure has been another persistent problem in the industry. In 2015, former Microsoft employees revealed that the company had decided not to tell hackers’ targets, many of them Uyghurs, that their email accounts had been compromised.  

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