China accused of using Twitter and Facebook against Hong Kong protests

San Francisco: Twitter and Facebook have said they had uncovered a campaign by China to use the social media platforms against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

"We are disclosing a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement and their calls for political change," Twitter said in an online post on Monday.

Facebook said a tip from Twitter led to the removal of a network of pages, groups and accounts originating in China and involved in "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" focusing on Hong Kong.

Twitter said it suspended 936 accounts that originated in China. The California-based micro-messaging service is blocked in mainland China, so many of the accounts accessed it using "virtual private networks" that give a deceptive picture of the user's location.

"Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation," Twitter said. "We identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to HK protests."

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