HK mes­sag­ing plat­forms urged to stop doxxing, hate

Global Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Wang Wen­wen and Chen Qingqing

So­cial net­works such as Tele­gram and LIHKG, which Hong Kong pro­test­ers use widely for com­mu­ni­ca­tion in as­sem­blies, have be­come plat­forms that spread hate speech and leak in­for­ma­tion of pro-es­tab­lish­ment peo­ple. An­a­lysts urged strict reg­u­la­tions to be adopted to curb ter­ror-like ac­tiv­i­ties on the plat­forms.

A mother of a kinder­garten stu­dent, who com­plained about some teach­ers telling chil­dren that “the po­lice of­fi­cers are bad guys,” told the Global Times on Tues­day that she was afraid of be­ing doxxed by anti-govern­ment pro­test­ers, so she de­cided to drop the com­plaint as her email ad­dress had been leaked on­line.

The mother, a lo­cal Hongkonger who sup­ports the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion (HKSAR) govern­ment and the po­lice, is among

many silent Hong Kong peo­ple whose voices have been sup­pressed by rad­i­cal pro­test­ers for fear of pos­si­ble re­tal­i­a­tion.

She pre­vi­ously com­plained to the Hong Kong Po­lice Force, and for­warded her com­plaint to the Ed­u­ca­tion Bureau on Mon­day, say­ing her fiveyear-old child, who is in K3 grade, had a face-to­face in­ter­view at Hong Kong Univer­sity Grad­u­ates As­so­ci­a­tion Pri­mary School and was told by the teach­ers that “the po­lice of­fi­cers are bad guys.”

The mother said her child was too young to tell right from wrong and be­lieves teach­ers should not talk about po­lit­i­cal top­ics in kinder­garten.

It has be­come in­creas­ingly com­mon that if pro-es­tab­lish­ment groups speak out in fa­vor of the HKSAR govern­ment or the po­lice, or they hold dif­fer­ent views on anti-govern­ment protests and con­demn the vi­o­lence, their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion could be leaked on the so­cial net­works of Tele­gram and LIHKG.

The two plat­forms have been the most pop­u­lar mes­sag­ing apps among Hong Kong pro­test­ers. Tele­gram is a cloud-based mes­sag­ing app de­vel­oped by Rus­sians, regis­tered in both the US and the UK, but has been blocked by Rus­sia. Red­dit­like fo­rum LIHKG was es­tab­lished in 2016, and is based in Hong Kong.

Spread­ing hate speech

Some rad­i­cal pro­test­ers use the two plat­forms to spread hate speech on those who dis­agree with them, and even ex­pose pri­vacy of those who hold a dif­fer­ent stance. The name, picture and other pri­vate in­for­ma­tion of “blue rib­bons” (pro-es­tab­lish­ment groups) and front­line po­lice of­fi­cers and their fam­ily mem­bers have been leaked on the plat­form.

John Tse Chun-chung, head of the Hong Kong Po­lice pub­lic re­la­tions, has been ex­posed through doxxing, with in­for­ma­tion of his chil­dren be­ing leaked on LIHKG. Some rad­i­cal pro­test­ers is­sued threats on­line, claim­ing that they would pick them up af­ter school, which is fright­en­ing for many po­lice of­fi­cers and their fam­ily mem­bers.

Spread­ing hate mes­sages or doxxing some­one who sup­ports the HKSAR govern­ment and the po­lice could be done very quickly. The post could di­rectly link to the tar­geted peo­ple’s Face­book pages, pho­tos be­ing posted, and his per­sonal in­for­ma­tion leaked on LIHKG or Tele­gram.

Global Times re­porters saw the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and pho­tos of a po­lice officer ’s girl­friend leaked on Tele­gram, be­cause of her sup­port for po­lice and her op­po­si­tion to vi­o­lent protests.

The in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing oc­cu­pa­tion, phone num­ber, com­pany ad­dress and fam­ily ad­dress of this pro-po­lice woman sur­named Chan were all leaked on Tele­gram.

A sep­a­rate video ob­tained by the Global Times Mon­day night showed a Hong Kong young man was beaten hard by pro­test­ers and his phone snatched af­ter the man tried to shoot videos of black-clad pro­test­ers changing their black shirts to white shirts to avoid ar­rest.

Such vi­o­lence-ori­ented mes­sages and hate speech have cre­ated fear not only on­line but also in the real world, which has be­come a ter­ror-like act that forces Hong Kong peo­ple to re­main silent in front of vi­o­lence and il­le­gal be­hav­ior.

Many so­cial plat­forms have their own poli­cies to pre­vent ru­mors and hate speech from spread­ing. The main­land’s Weibo for ex­am­ple re­quires real-name reg­is­tra­tion of all users.

Tang Fei, a mem­ber of the Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong and Ma­cao Stud­ies, said that there is no le­gal ba­sis to shut down mes­sag­ing apps in Hong Kong, and the op­er­a­tors of such plat­forms are re­spon­si­ble for se­cur­ing users’ pri­vate in­for­ma­tion and reg­u­lat­ing their plat­forms.

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