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Text Editor Releases ‘Free Uyghur’ Edition, Gets Swamped With Chinese Spam

Accepted submission by upstart at 2019-10-31 17:23:15

████ Bot sub. Needs editing. Et cetera. ████

Submitted via IRC for soylent_blue

Text editor releases ‘Free Uyghur’ edition, gets swamped with Chinese spam []

Developer was promoting human rights awareness

This week, the developer of the popular text- and code-editing software Notepad++ [] released a new version update. Nothing seemed particularly strange about it, except maybe the name: Notepad++ v7.8.1 is the “Free Uyghur” edition.

Developer writes about plight of the Uyghur people

In a blog post announcing the updated version [], developer Don Ho writes about the plight of the Uyghur people, an ethnic minority in China that’s faced persecution from the country’s authoritarian government. China operates internment camps that are used to detain Uyghur people throughout the country’s Xinjiang region.

“The fact you have just learned such information is already an action in and of itself,” Ho writes in the announcement. “But you can involve more people to focus on this issue and hopefully apply additional pressure on the Chinese government to stop their oppressive actions and crimes concerning the Uyghur people.”

While the protest may have been innocuous enough, it hasn’t played out that way online. Since the announcement, the software’s GitHub “issues” page has been bombarded with spam [], much of it in the Chinese language.

“Stop sending meaningless political-related issues, it just makes you look like an idiot,” reads one comment []. Another one simply reads [], “Bye ! Uninstall.” There’s a litany of curses, and one asks, “What do you know about China?” Others have moved in to criticize the Chinese government in response.

Ho told The Verge that the software’s dedicated site was also under a distributed-denial-of-service attack, but that it has been stopped by an anti-DDoS service provided by the site’s host.

For software like Notepad++, the GitHub page is an important resource, and having it unavailable could be a headache for some users. Previous versions of the software have, in the past, been named in political protest, and one even referenced [] the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Ho writes in the announcement that he anticipated potential pushback, saying “talking about politics is exactly what software and commercial companies generally try to avoid,” but decided to take the step anyway.

“The problem is,” Ho writes in the announcement of the Free Uyghur edition, “if we don’t deal with politics, politics will deal with us.”

Update, 7:35PM ET: Includes statement from Ho about denial-of-service attack.

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