Facebook Says ‘Bug’ Preventing Sharing of Shen Yun Ads

Facebook Says ‘Bug’ Preventing Sharing of Shen Yun Ads
In the days and weeks leading up to Shen Yun Performing Arts’ Australian tour, which kicks off in the country’s capital, Canberra, on March 31, fans and ticket-holders have reported that Facebook has restricted their ability to share the company’s ad posts on the social media platform.

“Just so you know, I have tried twice to share, and both times [I’ve] been told: ‘To prevent any misuse, we’ve temporarily restricted your ability to use this feature on Facebook. You can try again later.’ Have you turned off the share feature … ?” Facebook user Marie Louise wrote as a comment on a Shen Yun post in March.

A second user, Gail Klement, reported the same problem two weeks earlier: “I tried also [and] it wouldn’t let me. It gave me the option of disagreeing with [Facebook’s] decision, so I did.

“Beautiful dance form,” she added, referring to the art form of classical Chinese dance at the heart of the New York-based company’s performances.

“Thank you for trying!” Shen Yun replied to both users. “Many people have reported this same problem. Please report this to Facebook. You can alternatively post our homepage.”

In this screenshot, two Facebook users inform Shen Yun Performing Arts that Facebook has restricted their ability to share a Shen Yun ad post, obtained by The Epoch Times on March 29, 2022.
In this screenshot, two Facebook users inform Shen Yun Performing Arts that Facebook has restricted their ability to share a Shen Yun ad post, obtained by The Epoch Times on March 29, 2022.

The Epoch Times, which is a media partner to Shen Yun, became aware of the problem when staff received the same notification when attempting to share an ad promoting Shen Yun’s upcoming performances in Melbourne and Bendigo in the state of Victoria from April 22 to May 1.

A spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, confirmed the issue was due to a bug in the system.

“There is a technical bug which is preventing people from sharing this video. It has been escalated to our engineering team to investigate and resolve,” the spokesperson for Meta told The Epoch Times on March 29.

It is not clear if the “bug” confirmed by Meta is related only to the particular ad reported to the tech giant or if it included other Shen Yun ads which fans had reported to the dance company.

After flagging the move last year, on Jan. 19, Meta took steps to restrict options for advertisers on topics “people may perceive as sensitive, such as options referencing causes, organisations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation.”

On that note, Shen Yun’s 2022 ads tell potential audiences that what it presents on stage is “China before communism,” making the dance company’s ads a sensitive topic for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Curtain call at the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver on March 25, 2022. (Hugh Zhao/The Epoch Times)

In fact, the CCP has often sought to keep people from experiencing Shen Yun all around the world by intimidating theatre managers, pressuring local governments, and spreading misinformation.

This is because the mission of Shen Yun’s elite dancers, musicians, and artists—who came together in New York to form the company in 2006—is to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture, which had come close to extinction after 70 years under the atheistic CCP, which deemed China’s ancient Buddhist and Daoist spiritual heritage an ideological threat.

In fact, many Shen Yun performers have endured persecution under China’s communist regime for practising Falun Dafa, a spiritual discipline with moral teachings centred on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, tolerance, and meditative exercises.

Amid pressure from the CCP, Shen Yun’s dancers declare they are bringing authentic Chinese culture back to life, and within its two-hour show, they present legendary tales from history, ethnic folk dances, solo performances, and also story-based pieces that depict vignettes of communist oppression in modern-day China.

Shen Yun has performed to millions in sold-out venues such as the Lincoln Center in New York, Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and Palais de Congrès in Paris.

Shen Yun will perform in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Bendigo, Adelaide, Gold Coast, and Toowoomba this year.

The “technical bug” preventing fans from sharing Shen Yun’s ads in the lead up to its Australian tour comes amid accusations the tech giant has censored topics sensitive to the CCP, such as its persecution of faith-based groups like Falun Dafa.

Earlier in March, two Chinese Australian women, one a celebrated jewellery entrepreneur and the other an influential, independent China watcher and author—who both practise Falun Dafa—reported that Meta had restricted their accounts as well.

In both instances, Meta investigated the issues, and most of the restrictions were removed after gaining media attention.

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