Why Vice’s Reporting on Naomi Wu Could Get Her Arrested in China


While much has been said about the ongoing controversy between Naomi Wu and media company Vice, there are still several questions surrounding the issue that remain.  

Earlier this year, Wu welcomed the publication’s reporter and her crew for three days in Shenzhen, China, allowing for an interview and an immersive look into the tech builder’s workplace and environment.

The tech personality, known as the “Sexy Cyborg of Chinese Tech,” would later call out Vice on social media for reneging on an agreement that involves avoiding certain personal topics for her safety.

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She later wrote on Reddit:

“They asked for an interview, I said sure but I don’t want to talk about my online harassment or personal life. They agreed- in writing. Then after showing them around Shenzhen for three days, they got on a plane went back to the US and said oh yeah we’re writing about your online harassment or personal life so you better tell us your side or else we’re just going to publish what some anons wrote.”

Despite emailed requests and numerous Twitter posts expressing her strong objections, Vice went on to publish the article which still pursued a discussion on the personal topics.

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In apparent retaliation, she doxed (showed the home address of) the reporters in her latest video on Patreon. The action eventually got her banned from the platform.

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Internet discussion has so far veered mainly on how Wu was in the wrong for doxing the reporters, and how Vice allegedly did not delve too deep into Wu’s personal life and just merely hinted at it, “giving Wu the opportunity to respond.”

Vice has since released a statement noting that while it was not their aim to speculate on Naomi’s private life, they needed “to address what has been previously reported or publicly discussed by a subject” or else their story would be incomplete.

The statement then concluded by explaining that their interests are “reporting accurately and protecting the safety of our employees.”

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That would, of course, be easily acceptable had they added a bit of concern for their subject’s safety as well. Wu has openly stated prior to the Vice story’s publication that her objections to the topics are all rooted in protecting her safety.

For those who might still be a bit confused on what’s up with Wu’s reservations regarding certain topics, a Twitter user named Jackie Luo (@jackiehluo) broke the issue down in a series of tweets.  (You can read the full thread here.)

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In her now viral thread, she explained how the different political landscape in China could come into play in Naomi’s case, pointing out that many people have gotten themselves into trouble about certain issues in China that are normally ignored in the United States.

Lou then pointed out what the Chinese government may find subversive in Naomi’s speech.

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She observed that, in the article itself, Naomi had been careful with her choice of words:

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This brings to the point how a certain conspiracy about Naomi, pushed online by anonymous individuals and hinted by Vice despite Naomi’s protests, may actually harm her. Lou cited how China might take such narratives against Naomi, whose rebuttal might be politicized or interpreted incorrectly.

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As Naomi has claimed, the article has already lead to calls from Chinese citizens for her to be arrested.

Vice, which has been an active defender of oppressed women in technology in the past, may have failed to consider why prodding on anonymous Reddit accusations could do their subject more harm than whatever good they were trying to sniff out from it.

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