Twitter, Facebook take down misinformation targeting Hong Kong protests

Twitter and Facebook on Monday both announced the discovery of a disinformation campaign being conducted on their platforms by Chinese-backed groups trying to undermine the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Twitter wrote in a post that it had identified 936 accounts originating in China that were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.”

Twitter said it had “reliable evidence” to believe this was a state-backed coordinated operation.

As a result, Twitter will no longer accept advertising from state-controlled media outlets, specifically those that are either financially or editorially controlled by a nation-state.

“We want to protect healthy discourse and open conversation,” Twitter wrote. “To that end, we believe that there is a difference between engaging in conversation with accounts you choose to follow and the content you see from advertisers in your Twitter experience which may be from accounts you’re not currently following. We have policies for both but we have higher standards for our advertisers.”

Facebook wrote in a separate post that based on Twitter’s findings, it conducted its own internal investigation into what the company described as “coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region.”

Facebook removed seven pages, three groups, and five accounts from the platform stemming from the investigation. More than 15,000 Facebook users were estimated to follow the Chinese-backed pages that were removed, while around 2,200 accounts were members of at least one of the groups.