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1. The following are excerpts from a news report by Annie Palmer, Associate Tech Reporter, dated August 19 2019, under the headline "Facebook, Twitter accuse China of running disinformation campaign against Hong Kong protesters".|
Twitter and Facebook have suspended numerous accounts that they say are tied to a Chinese disinformation campaign against pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Twitter said Monday it suspended 936 accounts likely related to the activity. The company said the disinformation campaign was designed to “sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political protest movement on the ground.”
Over the weekend, approximately 1.7 million anti-government protesters gathered in Hong Kong to rally peacefully against the Chinese government, which assumed rule of the former British colony in 1997. Protests erupted in June following a now-suspended bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China.
“Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation,” the company said in a blog post. “Specifically, we have identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests.”
Following Twitter’s announcement, Facebook said in a blog post that it was acting on a tip from Twitter. Both companies face increased pressure to crack down on fake accounts and false content on their platforms in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, during which foreign actors used the sites to sow division around social issues.
Twitter’s latest move comes after social media site Pinboard warned days earlier that China was using Twitter to distribute posts from state media discrediting the protests.
Twitter is blocked in China, but many of the accounts it discovered were using virtual private networks, which encrypt and anonymize web traffic. The accounts it suspended represent the “most active” portion of the broader spam campaign, which it estimates to include about 200,000 accounts.
As a result of the announcement, Twitter said it would no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news media entities.
The company didn’t call out any specific news outlets in the post, but said it was including any entities that are “either financially or editorially controlled by the state.” The organizations are still able to use the platform for communication, just not for advertisements.
Twitter clarified that the updated policy doesn’t apply to taxpayer-funded entities, such as independent public broadcasters.
Facebook removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts in what it calls coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting Hong Kong. About 15,500 accounts followed one or more of the now-deactivated pages, while roughly 2,200 accounts joined at least one of the groups, Facebook said.
“We’re taking down these Pages, Groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in the post. “As with all of these takedowns, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”
Individuals involved in the campaign used fake accounts, some of which had been already spotted and disabled by Facebook’s automated systems, to manage pages posing as news sites, post in groups, share content and direct users to sites off of Facebook, the company said... (End excerpts)
2. The two social media giants' allegation of a Beijing-backed disinformation campaign against the Hong Kong protesters has created the following false impressions:
(a) All the Chinese on the mainland have become like robots incapable of free and individual thinking.
Mind you, Chinese have been touring and studying overseas for many decades, and they know what's happening in other countries. For Chinese students who have studied overseas for several years, their minds have definitely undergone some changes without brain operations.
(b) All Chinese have become apathetic to politics.
If not for the Chinese guards around the US Embassy, many Chinese will definitely like to go there to protest against Trump's anti-China campaign and throw rotten eggs through the window at the US ambassador.
(c) Chinese have lost all sense of nationalism and patriotism.
Even during the past few centuries of national tragedy when China had fallen into anarchy, there was a spontaneous upsurge of Chinese nationalism giving rise to many famous patriotic Chinese writers and intellectuals such as Lu Xun and Lin Yutang.
3. During the Mao era, many Chinese had fled across the Hong Kong border to seek refuge. As a result, many Hongkongers tend to despise the mainlanders, calling them "Ah Chan", a nickname for a mainland country bumpkin who had fled to Hong Kong in a famous old Cantonese television drama.
Even now, some Hongkongers still regard the mainlanders with disdain and hostility, accusing them of causing the rise in housing and food prices. Don't think the mainlanders are so blind and deaf to such disdain and hostility that they need the Chinese government to force them to slam the radical protesters in the social media.
4. Recently some radicals have hijacked the protest movement, turning it into something like a revolt or uprising in the past few weeks. Please refer to the excerpts from the following news reports:
(a) Protesters have forced their way into the central chamber of Hong Kong's parliament after an hours-long siege.
Dozens of demonstrators broke through the glass of the Legislative Council (LegCo) building earlier in the day.
Hundreds then entered the building, spray-painting messages on the walls and carrying supplies for those occupying the premises....
Extensive damage was done to the building, with portraits of political leaders torn from the walls and furniture smashed.
Inside the central legislative chamber, one protester sprayed black paint across the emblem of Hong Kong on the rear wall - while another raised the old British colonial flag....
Demonstrators blocked several roads nearby early using items like metal and plastic barriers....
A police statement condemned "illegal acts" by protesters who, it said, had taken iron poles and guard rails from nearby building sites.
Thirteen police officers were taken to hospital after protesters threw an "unknown liquid" at them, police said. Some are reported to have suffered breathing difficulties as a result...
(b) They set up roadblocks by umbrellas, wooden planks, bamboo sticks and railings; pried up pavement bricks, demolished roadside fences, damaged street signs and lampposts as well as attacked police officers at scene with lethal weapons such as bricks and sharpened iron rods.
5. The Hong Kong government should set up a museum for the exhibition of objects, photos and videos that show the vandalism and violence of the radical protesters. By the way, some protesters had thrown bricks, eggs and flaming objects at police stations. Rubbish was set on fire outside at least one police station.
P.S. Perhaps some skeptical journalists, together with the founders of the two social media giants, should dress up in police uniforms to mingle with the Hong Kong police during the violent protests. Unfortunately or fortunately, if they are each hit on the head or chest by a flying brick, they will have the honour of meeting with God earlier than scheduled by Him.