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Facebook, Twitter spot fake posts on HK protests

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 20, 2019 - Duration: 01:57s

Facebook, Twitter spot fake posts on HK protests

Twitter and Facebook say they've dismantled a state-backed information operation originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong.

Jane Lanhee Lee reports.

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Facebook, Twitter spot fake posts on HK protests

Facebook on Monday (August 20) said it removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts that it says were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in China.

The content in question includes a post showing an image of protesters in Hong Kong paired with an image ISIS militants with a caption that - when translated - reads "what's the difference?" Several other posts make the same comparison.

Facebook said its investigation found that the individuals behind the influence campaign were linked to the Chinese government.

The investigation came after a tip from Twitter, which said it found a significant state-backed information operation trying to undermine the protests in Hong Kong.

Twitter said it had identified close to a thousand accounts from inside the People's Republic of China where both Twitter and Facebook are blocked.

Reuters social media reporter Elizabeth Culliford.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, ELIZABETH CULLIFORD, SAYING: "Social media companies like Twitter and Facebook have been under a huge amount of pressure to stem these kind of political disinformation campaigns.

This is globally... but they're particularly under pressure in the run up to the November 2020 US presidential election after it was found that Russia ran social media interference campaign in 2016." The Hong Kong protests - one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012 - began in June as opposition to a now-suspended bill that would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.

They have since swelled into wider calls for democracy.

The Chinese embassy in Washington and the U.S. State Department were not immediately available to comment.

Twitter also said on Monday it was updating its advertising policy and would not accept advertising from state-controlled news media entities going forward.

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