Twitter and Facebook say China used its services to discredit protesters in Hong Kong

Protesters in Hong Kong, this Sunday.

Social networks say that the Chinese State coordinated an operation to “undermine the legitimacy and political positions” of the pro-democracy movement

The Chinese authorities used about a thousand Twitter accounts, and to a lesser extent Facebook pages, to discredit and divide prodemocracy protesters in Hong Kong, the two social networks said Monday.

Twitter suspended 986 accounts that “are coordinated within the framework of an operation backed by the” Chinese State to “undermine the legitimacy and political positions” of the protesters, Twitter said in a publication. “We identified broad sets of accounts that behaved in a coordinated manner in order to amplify messages about demonstrations in Hong Kong,” said the group based in California, United States.

Facebook, informed by Twitter, announced in turn the deletion, for the same reasons, of seven pages and three groups, also “linked to individuals associated with the Government of Beijing.”

Twitter recalled that its service is prohibited by the Government of mainland China, whose agents have paradoxically had to resort to a VPN (a virtual network that makes it possible to circumvent the restrictions to operate, for example, in a certain geographical area). Other agents have used IP addresses unlocked for that purpose. The social network claims to have suspended a total of 200,000 accounts before they become really active.
Facebook, which is also banned in mainland China, said that about 15,500 accounts were following one or more of the pages that have just been deleted from its platform.

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