Edited by Donell Newkirk. Additional footage and pictures courtesy of Getty and Reuters
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Both Facebook and Twitter are banned in China but that has not stopped Beijing using both platforms to advance its own agenda, whether that is by taking out accounts for its own officials or by simply paying for advertising. But in recent months, as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have ramped up, both Twitter and Facebook say they have seen the use of their platforms for something more sinister. Both companies say they have noticed co-ordinated attempts by the government in Beijing to spread disinformation about the protests and to undermine their legitimacy.
Twitter says it has taken down 936 accounts, which it said originated from mainland China and were involved in attempting to spread fake news about the Hong Kong protests. Facebook, meanwhile, has taken down 15 pages, groups, and individual accounts which it says were associated with Beijing and focused on Hong Kong. These are the latest in a series of steps both companies have taken to combat the spread of disinformation and state-backed attempts to use their services for propaganda. Both companies know that taking such action and publicising it will be crucial if they are to recover their reputations following the 2016 US presidential elections. But more importantly, with just over a year until the next presidential elections, both companies also know they will soon be under more scrutiny than ever before.