It’s been a big week for one of the planet’s most populous, least populace-friendly countries, as international scrutiny—and also the attentions of a planet full of South Park fans, which is arguably more terrifying—have been focused on China and its attitudes toward censorship, state control of the media, and Hong Kong. We’ve already reported on the country’s ongoing battles with South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker over the last month or so, as the duo picked up a ban from the ban-happy country over their show’s recent attacks on Chinese censorship. Now it turns out that such restrictions are apparently spreading like some sort of social media virus, with popular German DJ Zedd announcing today that he’s also been banned from the country, not for any statements or posts of his own, but for liking one of the official South Park Twitter account’s tweets.
The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed with Zedd’s representatives that some sort of governmental action against the DJ does appear to have taken place, with Zedd stating that his promoters have had their permits to perform threatened if they continue to try to organize his shows. We don’t have any definitive proof that this is specifically because he hit the little heart button on a forbidden post, but a check of his Twitter activity does confirm that he liked a tweet celebrating the show’s recent 300th episode, and with no other obviously anti-China sentiments on display.
The legally actionable status of actions like “liking” stuff on Facebook has actually been a hotly contested, honestly kind of fascinating field to crop up in recent years. Back in 2017, Switzerland fined a man roughly $4,000 for hitting like on a post that was later deemed libelous, on the grounds that it constituted both an “endorsement,” and a propagation, of the illegal sentiment. That being said, we can’t find any immediate evidence of a Twitter “like” being held up to that same level of legal scrutiny before.
Zedd’s banning comes as attention increases, not just on China’s attitudes toward Hong Kong, but also on the way American companies and institutions have responded to these actions by the economic superpower. Both Apple, and video game studio Blizzard, have come under fire this week for decisions that were seen as supporting China’s actions in the territory—Apple, for removing an app that was being used by protesters to evade police, and Blizzard for punishing a participant at a tournament for the online card game Hearthstone for expressing pro-Hong Kong sentiment. The most vocal pro-Hong Kong voice in the American media, meanwhile, has been South Park itself; there are reports that episodes of the Comedy Central show are being broadcast on the streets of Hong Kong to demonstrate to protesters that there are Americans lending them support.