Facebook And Twitter Say China Is Spreading Disinformation About Hong Kong Protesters
Topline: Facebook and Twitter said Monday they both removed several fake accounts tied to a state-backed campaign to spread disinformation about pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, which called them violent thugs, in an attempt to sow political discord.
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- Facebook said it took down five accounts, seven Pages and three Groups while Twitter said it removed 936 accounts associated with the Chinese government.
- On both social networking sites, the Chinese government paid to promote posts that were critical of the protesters in Hong Kong, calling them violent thugs or likening them to cockroaches or ISIS.
- Twitter said it proactively suspended a larger, more spammy network of 200,000 accounts before they could substantially post. The social network also said it would no longer allow state-run media outlets to buy ads (the ban doesn’t include taxpayer-funded entities, such as independent public broadcasters).
- On Facebook, 15,500 accounts followed one or more of the Pages and about 2,200 accounts joined at least one of the now-removed Groups.
Key Background: Demonstrations in Hong Kong began months ago to oppose a law that would allow those accused of committing a crime in Hong Kong to be tried in mainland China. The worry is that the law would be used to crack down on political opponents. Consideration of the law has been suspended, but not fully withdrawn like protesters want.
The most violent spate of protests happened last week at Hong Kong International Airport, but massive rallies in the streets have continued since then. In response, China has hardened its stance on the demonstrations, calling them “close to terrorism.”
Key Context: Facebook and Twitter have had to deal with state-backed campaigns to spread misinformation since Russia did so during the 2016 presidential election.