In modern disinformation warfare, social media is the main battlefield.
- Twitter and Facebook say they've deleted multiple accounts that appear to be connected to a state-backed disinformation campaign.
- The accounts paint the Hong Kong protesters in an extremely negative light, with some calling them cockroaches.
- In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of protesters have been marching for 11 weeks, in what started as a fierce objection to a bill that would extradite Hong Kong citizens to China.
China is taking notes from Russia<p>The <em>New York Times</em> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/19/technology/hong-kong-protests-china-disinformation-facebook-twitter.html" target="_blank">wrote</a> that China has "adopted Russia's playbook" in its recent string of social media manipulation. That seems true. After all, even though both nations are known for using censorship and disinformation to control public opinion, they've historically used different strategies to do so. At the 2019 RSA Conference, an annual IT event, researchers described the basic difference between the two: Russia's strategy is disruptive and destructive, China's is about using wide-reaching control to paint a positive image of the state.<br></p> <p>"Today, China employs three primary tactics to control people online," Kelly Sheridan wrote in an article for <em><a href="https://www.darkreading.com/threat-intelligence/how-china-and-russia-use-social-media-to-sway-the-west/d/d-id/1334108" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dark Reading</a></em>, in which she spoke with Priscilla Moriuchi, head of nation-state research at <a href="https://go.recordedfuture.com/hubfs/reports/cta-2019-0306.pdf" target="_blank">Recorded Future</a>. "The first is outright censorship: People are blocked from posting comments or posts on certain topics, and recipients of banned messages don't receive them. Next up is social media regulation: Platforms including Twitter and Facebook are blocked, and other social media is required to comply with state censorship organizations. Finally, it distributes fake comments."</p> <p>China's goal, it seems, is to fill its censored internet with positive comments about the state. Meanwhile, Russia's strategy is markedly more offensive.</p> <p>"Researchers pinpointed several trends in [Russia's] election disruption reinforced across social media platforms: a clear preference for one candidate, targeting of specific opponents, real-world impact (voter suppression), and secessionist/insurrectionist messages," Sheridan wrote. "Their goals are disruptive and destructive; as a result, their social media operations use similar tactics."</p> <p>China knows how successful Russia has been in sowing discord in American public discourse, starting with the 2016 presidential election and, likely, continuing to this very moment. So it would be little surprise if China is simply taking notes from the Kremlin to pivot to a new style of disinformation warfare. After all, as the <em>New York Times</em> notes, Bangladesh, Iran, and Venezuela already have done the same.</p>
What are Hong Kongers protesting?<p>For the eleventh straight weekend, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers jammed the streets of their city — undeterred by tropical rainstorms, a police ban, and the omnipresent threat of violence — to protest a proposed law that would allow officials to extradite citizens to mainland China. Now, their demands <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/19/opinions/hong-kong-protests-inspire-americans-ghitis/index.html" target="_blank">also include</a> for leader Carrie Lam to step down, investigations into police brutality, and, in general, more democratic freedoms.<br></p><p>Hong Kong officials have already arrested hundreds of protestors. Chinese paramilitary forces were seen practicing crowd control in a stadium near the Hong Kong border. As of Monday, neither side has shown any sign of giving up ground anytime soon.</p><p>On Sunday, <em><a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/08/18/752221036/hong-kong-lawmaker-our-demands-are-reasonable" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NPR</a> </em>spoke with Alvin Yeung, a Hong Kong lawmaker and leader of the Civic Party, a pro-democracy political party, about the ongoing protests.</p><p>"All I can say is Hong Kong people are determined, and we are not easy to give up," Yeung said. "We wish to be as peaceful as possible to tell not Hong Kong people and Beijing but also to the rest of the world that our demands are reasonable. Our demands are highly sensible. And it is the Hong Kong government that should be responsible for all this. As to strategy, Hong Kong people has been learning from Bruce Lee, the cultural master, that we have to be water. So whenever we can, we would show our force, show our power and determination. But we would try to avoid having clashes with the police."</p>
Scientists are planning a Scientists’ March on Washington on April 22 to protest the Trump administration’s anti-science policies.
There is censorship in science, admits Bill Nye – but not nearly as much as there should be.
There are certainly some science labs and military research projects that are for classified eyes only, says Bill Nye, but in his view the more pressing issue regarding science and censorship is the proliferation of exaggerated and twisted science studies, and outright pseudoscience on the internet. It's a topic particularly relevant in the wake of heightened fake news awareness. We ordinary citizens may never crack the code of the secret projects government scientists may or may not be working on, but we can get busy educating ourselves and fine-tuning our critical thinking skills so we aren't led astray by false stories.
The UK government is discussing legislation that would require all internet service providers to block websites with “adult content”, specifically those without age verification.