On Thursday, Bloomberg reported detailing Google’s removal of hundreds of negative reviews targeting the Human Rights Foundation’s (HRF) Uyghur Forced Labor Checker, a Google Chrome extension plug-in that informs consumers when they visit a website of a brand that may be linked to Uyghur forced labor, prompting them to reconsider their purchases.
As the outlet reported, the checker has experienced a spate of unusual activity recently, chiefly one-star ratings and negative commentary, and we all know why: The CCP is not only committing genocide against the Uyghur population and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples, it also has gross ties to Western fashion labels.
The bot attack on HRF’s software tool shows that it remains critical to expose human rights abuses in China. If someone cares enough to try and take us down, then we’re doing something that matters.
Keep Uyghur Forced Labor out of your shopping cart by downloading our award-winning Google Chrome Extension.
By Margi Murphy
August 24, 2023 at 11:50 AM EDT
Alphabet Inc.’s Google has removed hundreds of negative reviews for a tracker that identifies apparel brands linked to forced Uyghur labor after its creator said the reviews were part of a disinformation campaign.
The Human Rights Foundation’s Uyghur Forced Labor Checker had been experiencing a spate of unusual activity in recent months, with the number of downloads fluctuating dramatically, according to Claudia Bennett, the nonprofit’s legal and program officer. The tool, a Google Chrome extension, alerts internet users if a retailer or business whose website they are visiting has links to forced Uyghur labor.
Human Rights Foundation won a Webby People’s Voice award in public service and activism in 2022. In May, the organization’s legal department alerted Google to a barrage of one-star ratings, which they suspected were part of a computer bot attack. The reviews in question came from accounts using similar cartoon avatars as profile pictures, had nonsensical first and last names, and spoke in broken English, according to screenshots seen by Bloomberg News.
“Malicious slander,” one of the reviews stated. “Leakage of privacy,” claimed another. A third said, “Isn’t it too boring.”
A Google spokesperson said the company carefully monitors the Chrome Web Store and removes reviews that violate its policies, including those removed from the Uyghur Forced Labor Checker. It wasn’t clear who was behind the negative reviews.
The US has accused China of forcing Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region to work under what officials have described as a broader campaign of genocide.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
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