Deal announced two weeks ago would have seen shiny new VooV vid chat tool used around the world
The United Nations has reportedly dissolved a deal that would have seen its 75th birthday celebrations conducted using video chat tech from Chinese web giant Tencent.
News of the alliance emerged on March 31st, when the two announced that Tencent’s VooV video chat service, WeChat Work service and AI-powered translation tools would all be used to facilitate meetings during the United Nations’ 75th birthday celebrations.
Excited to partner with @UN @JoinUN75 to drive conversations across the globe about the future. Our online platforms and tools, VooV Meeting and WeChat Work, enable seamless communications to take place online. #UN75 #WeUnited
Make your voice heard on https://t.co/QELip3vgVP pic.twitter.com/b6TAprUJDy
— Tencent 腾讯 (@TencentGlobal) March 31, 2020
This was something of a coup for Tencent because VooV was only launched to the world in late March 2020, yet the UN was willing to use it as it rushed to move celebrations online. The deal therefore re-enforced Tencent’s messaging that the tool demonstrates its generosity, capability and ingenuity.
But the deal quickly raised concerns because content on WeChat has been known to mysteriously disappear if it is not the sort of thing China’s government admires or approves. Which is not the sort of crimp on free speech and human expression that the UN is supposed to in any way endorse.
Now Foreign Policy magazine has reported that the partnership has been unwound.
Louis Charbonneau, Human Rights Watch’s director at the UN, gave that report credence by labelling it a “fine scoop”.
The Register has asked the UN and Tencent to confirm the report. ®