On Wednesday, Beijing enacted new security laws under which Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people after thousands of people defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city’s handover to China.
Hong Kong people have completely removed their social media presence. Protests erupted on July 1 as the new law came into effect on the anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China.
Before the law came into effect, residents were already imposing self-censorship. Several users who have content on their account that could be considered “objectionable” under the new law, removed all the contents or removed their accounts. Police used water cannons, pepper spray and tear gas to disperse protesters.
A University of Hong Kong law professor, Johannes Chan stated that the offenses under the new law remain vague as authorities have not determined the “small minority of people” who will be affected by the new law.
“It is clear that the law will have a severe impact on freedom of expression, if not personal security, on the people of Hong Kong,” Chan said.
“Many people have begun to delete their postings on Facebook,” Chan added.
Facebook and several other social media platforms were asked by Hong Kong police to remove posts that were “defamatory” or contained “unfounded allegations” about their handling of protests.
Hong Kong police published a letter on its official website, saying, “As a global social media platform, Facebook absolutely has the responsibility to ensure that contents dispatched by its users are factual and in the public interest.” Since the handover, July 1 is traditionally considered a day of protests in the city but for the first time, protesters were not allowed to hold peaceful protests.