Topline:

Twitter and Facebook, the U.S. social media tech giants, in an effort to push back on China’s massive campaign to undermine the Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protests, targeted accounts that were allegedly spreading disinformation through fake accounts

According to Twitter, it removed 936 accounts active accounts and proactively suspended a larger network of 200,000 accounts before they could start posting actively, citing that these were created within the People’s Republic of China, with support from the Chinese Government, in an effort to dismantle the movement and that these accounts were taken down due to its policy violations. The social network also stated, it will not allow state-run media outlets to buy ads, clarifying that it is not applicable for taxpayer-funded entities, such as autonomous public broadcasters.

A relatively smaller network was discovered by Facebook that included seven pages, three groups and five accounts, in which, at least one of the pages was being followed by about 15,500 accounts and at least 2,200 had joined one of the groups. Facebook was able to trace these back to China and were consequently removed, terming it as “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on the service. A statement by Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of Cybersecurity policy, pointed out that they started investigating into the matter after Twitter informed the company.

Background:

Protests broke down in Hong Kong, that opposed a Chinese bill allowing people accused of crimes to be extradited to China for trial. With violence spreading to Hong Kong International Airport and rallies amassing more than a million protestors. The bill, even though it was suspended in June, protestors demanded democratic reforms and investigation into police brutality during mass gatherings.

Chinese Response:

China remains firm on its stance and calls the protest “behavior close to terrorism.”

When questioned about Twitter and Facebook, a Chinese official defending rights of Chinese people, argued that they have every right to voice the Hong Kong protests. Leaders of Hong Kong protest movement have been known to widely use social media to get their message out to the world.