China's nationalist trolls target Hong Kong protesters online
MANILA, Philippines – China has its own brand of nationalist trolls, and they're staking a claim on the online space of Hong Kong, which is generally beyond China's great firewall.
The South China Morning Post on Wednesday, August 7, gave an overview of a secretive group of state-media-endorsed trolls known as Diba.
Members of the Diba group go on "battle expeditions" to spread pro-China memes or hit out at pro-Hong Kong protesters online.
As such, Diba's actions usually end up amplifying anti-protest voices in Hong Kong, in addition to sharing derogatory memes against well-known protesters and brigading harassment or threats against people they disagree with.
Diba's members also operate on social media that isn't generally open to Chinese users. Aside from Chinese platforms Weibo and Tieba, the trolls also operate on Facebook, which is generally blocked in China.
While Hong Kong is currently the main battlefield of the Diba trolls, their work extends to other countries as they also target people who organize events in support of Hong Kong's protesters. SCMP noted student organizers in Australia and New Zealand who were also targeted by threats and harassment from Chinese nationalists.
In the end, Diba's aim does not appear to be convincing people outside China of any lofty goals but rather, as professor Fang Kecheng at the Chinese University of Hong Kong noted, "being applauded in mainland China."
Said Fang, “They boost Chinese nationalists’ pride and further dehumanize pro-democracy protesters. The dehumanization of the enemy is important in military [campaigns], and is also seen as such in online ‘crusades.'" – Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As a bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.