The ban on ‘Uyghur’ was triggered by an automated chat filter, and has since been fixed.
League of Legends studio Riot Games said that a ban on the word “Uyghur” in the game was triggered by its automated chat systems, and that the glitch that caused it to happen has now been fixed. Riot communications lead Ryan Rigney also said that the company will spend the next few weeks going over the disallowed words and phrases in its automated system to help ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
The Uyghurs are a Muslim ethnic minority in China, widely reported by US media to be suffering widespread abuses including arbitrary detention and torture. Given the fact that Riot is fully owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent, and the furor over Blizzard’s handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong—which spurred a warning from Riot that League players should avoid talking about “sensitive topics” while on their air—there was some suspicion that it was an intentional effort to shut down conversations on the topic.
But Rigney was pretty emphatic in stating that he didn’t believe that to be the case.
“Gonna go look into this right now. Sometimes our system bans really weird words for no good reason,” he wrote. “That said it would be compete bullshit to intentionally ban the name of any ethnic group.”
Shortly after, he updated his reply to say that the ban on the word was the result of an automated trigger, which has now been fixed. “We’ll be spending the next few weeks triaging with our global teams to review our ‘disallowed words/phrases’ lists and update accordingly,” he wrote.
Ironically, as noted by GamesIndustry, the first post in the Reddit thread titled “‘Uyghur’ is literally a banned word in the League client” has been removed for violating the subreddit rule that states “claims about or against distinct entities must have sources or proof supporting them and present them in an unbiased manner.”