As an international coalition implemented sanctions, and the UK Parliament debated legislation, responding to the Chinese regime’s genocide of the Uyghurs, The Epoch Times received evidence linking Facebook ad revenue to Chinese companies profiting from that genocide. The advertisement of Uyghur hair on Facebook places the social media giant at odds with policymakers, human rights activists, and its own stated policies.
On Aug. 20, 2020, the Epoch Times reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) seized over 13 tons of human hair products from the Western province of Xinjiang. In the report, Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann stated, ““My back-of-the-envelope calculation is that this shipment represents the hair of approximately 90,000 women, incarcerated in ‘re-education camps.’ Although this sort of long, exotic hair—deep chestnut browns, red highlights—are usually identified in Chinese catalogs with the euphemism ‘Mongolian,’ the hair is shaved from the heads of Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Hui women.”
This week the United States—along with international allies in the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance—announced new sanctions against at least two Chinese officials.
In a joint statement issued on March 21 the group writes, “The evidence, including from the Chinese Government’s own documents, satellite imagery, and eyewitness testimony is overwhelming. China’s extensive program of repression includes severe restrictions on religious freedoms, the use of forced labor, mass detention in internment camps, forced sterilizations, and the concerted destruction of Uyghur heritage.”
In the UK, measures had been introduced through an amendment by Lord David Alton to the ongoing post-BREXIT legislation on commerce and trade, which were debated on March 21. The amendment presented would establish a parliamentary panel of judicial experts given power to determine whether any proposed signatory to a trade agreement with the UK had committed genocide.
Commenting exclusively to The Epoch Times, Lord Alton addressed his disappointment that the measure he proposed did not fully pass, and his determination for his amendments to BREXIT Trade legislation to continue. “300 MPs brought the Government within a whisker of defeat in the (House of Commons) and majorities of over 100 in the House of Lords have demonstrated the strength of feeling and that, as new Genocides occur in places like Xinjiang, this argument is far from over and will not go away.” Alton wrote in an email to the Epoch Times.
“The Government has inched its way to finally accepting that its policy has consistently failed victims of genocide,” Alton went on. “By establishing a degree of parliamentary accountability it narrowly avoided defeat in the Commons but has left a way open for Parliament to name atrocity crimes for what they are and for our duties under the 1948 Convention on the Crime of Genocide to be fulfilled.” He explained.
This latest legislation, however, was not enough for the British leader in human rights advocacy. “The Government has also continued to resist the fundamental principle that the UK should not trade with a State credibly accused of Genocide and they cling to their policy that only a Court can fully determine whether a genocide is occurring,” Alton wrote. “They do so knowing that no such domestic Court is empowered to do this and that international courts will be blocked from doing so by the perpetrators of genocide. The parliamentary debates on the Trade Bill have exposed this for the sham it is.”
Exclusive Evidence: Profiting from Genocide Continues
A source in Italy provided Epoch Times with screenshots of a conversation with an established company—Beijing YSG Human Hair Products Trading Company, Ltd.—reportedly telling the source it is located in Hong Kong, but whose location on its page and its name suggest it is within mainland China. Within the conversation, as seen in the screenshots provided, the source asked YSG where the hair was obtained, and if it was from the Uyghur ethnic group.
YSG responded, “Hello, dear friend, our hair [is] Uyghur hair.”
The Epoch Times followed up with several other sources, confirming a pattern of similar companies engaging in similar transactions on Facebook, targeting Western European and U.S. women. Sources explained that when they searched for “real hair extensions” or “real hair wigs,” ads would begin appearing on their Facebook timelines—ads with the same videos, same claims, but different company names. When contacted, these companies all claim to be located in Hong Kong, and that their “real human hair” products were of the highest quality.
As of March 21, YSG continues selling through Facebook hair it admitted was from Uyghurs. Similar companies “suggested” by the social media platform appear also to be selling Uyghur hair. Since a woman’s long hair is highly valued in Uyghur culture, the hair products being sold are almost certainly a product of the ongoing persecution, and not donated or sold freely.
How Facebook Makes Its Money
According to a report issued by Statista, in 2020 over “97.9% of Facebook’s global revenue was generated from advertising” with “Facebook ad revenue (standing) at close to 86 billion U.S. dollars.”
When a company (or companies) generate an advertisement for the sale of products or services on the social media platform, each ad goes through an approval process as determined by Facebook advertisement policies, (see here). Not only does Facebook receive revenue from the advertisements purchased, but they claim strict oversight and approval of all such advertisements.
Human Rights and Big Tech
On March 16, 2021, Facebook announced a new “commitment to human rights policy.”
Within the initiative, Facebook declares, “Our goal is for Facebook, as a business and a platform, to be a place for equality, safety, dignity and free speech—the core principles of human rights—and to build systems that respect human rights and guidance of the UNGPs [UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights].”
Facebook did not respond to a set of questions about the ads from The Epoch Times.
The Epoch Times also contacted Beijing YSG Human Hair Products Trading Company, Ltd. for comment on our report— to confirm the continuance of their trade in Uyghur hair, and to confirm their suppliers, but YSG has also not responded.
This article was updated on March 23, 2021 to include information about new sanctions imposed by the Five Eyes alliance, the attempts in the UK Parliament to pass legislation addressing genocide, and the effort to solicit comments from YSG.