The World Health Organization's Facebook page blocked terms related to Taiwan during the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly, Taiwanese politicians said this week. File Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/EPA-EFE
Nov. 12 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization allegedly blocked the word "Taiwan" from its Facebook page during a live video broadcast on the social media platform, Taiwanese politicians say.
Hong Kong's Apple Daily reported Thursday during the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly on Wednesday the WHO, which has drawn criticism for not doing more to pressure China in the early stages of COVID-19, had blocked a message during the broadcast that read, "Taiwan can help."
The WHO has excluded Taiwan following complaints from China. From 2009 to 2016 Taiwan attended the WHA as an observer. China had allowed for Taiwanese participation at a time when the two sides enjoyed friendlier ties under Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, according to Taiwan-based News Lens International on Thursday.
Taiwanese lawmaker Chen Po-wei confirmed "Taiwan" was blocked from comments during the Facebook streaming event. Users who entered the term received an "Unable to post comment" message, Taiwan News reported Thursday.
Commenters also tried to circumvent censors, by typing Taiwan with space between each letter, and writing "Taiwancanhelp." Those words were accepted but then soon blocked, according to Taiwan News.
Taiwan's representative to the United States Hsiao Bi-khim said Thursday on Twitter both the WHO and Facebook should be held accountable for blocking the messages.
"It would be an outrage to see the WHO and Facebook teaming up to do China's dirty work of censoring the success story in the fight against COVID-19," Hsiao said.
Hsiao later tweeted the WHO Facebook account had removed the Taiwan filter.
"I hope they will understand that denying Taiwan the opportunity to be included is a loss for the organization when all efforts are needed to combat the pandemic," she said.
Taiwan holds one of the lowest numbers of coronavirus deaths in the world, and has been championed as a global exemplar for its swift reaction to the pandemic.