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China accused of using Twitter, Facebook against HK protests

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Twitter and Facebook said Monday 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.

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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 behavior” 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 the Hong Kong protests.”

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Facebook removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts originating in mainland China deemed to be part of an influence campaign focused on Hong Kong, according to cybersecurity policy head Nathaniel Gleicher.

People running the campaign used “deceptive tactics” including fake accounts to pose as news organizations, spread content and steer people to news sites, Gleicher said.

“They frequently posted about local political news and issues including topics like the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” Gleicher said.

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“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.”

About 15,500 accounts followed at least one of the campaign’s Facebook pages, according to the social network.

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‘Disease fanboy’: Internet slams NBC conservative for ‘rooting for pandemic’ to distract from Trump impeachment trial

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Hugh Hewitt is once again under fire, this time for almost appearing to be glad a deadly SARS-related virus has been diagnosed in a patient in Washington state – saying additional diagnoses will take the focus away from the Senate's historic impeachment trial. Hewitt is a conservative Washington Post columnist, radio host, MSNBC and NBC contributor, and law professor who went from being a "Never-Trumper" to all-in for President Donald Trump.

"People care much more for their health than theater," said Hewitt via Twitter, referring to Trump's impeachment trial. The SARS-related virus, known as the Wuhan coronavirus, is named for an area of China where it was first found. It "has infected more than 300 people and killed six in an outbreak that has struck China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and now the US," CNN reports.

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Greece elects first woman president

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Greece's parliament on Wednesday elected the first woman president in the country's history, a senior judge with an expertise in environmental and constitutional law.

A cross-party majority of 261 MPs voted in favour of 63-year-old Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, parliament chief Costas Tassoulas said.

"Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou has been elected president of the republic," Tassoulas said.

The new president, until now the head of Greece's top administrative court, the Council of State, will take her oath of office on March 13, he added.

The daughter of a Supreme Court judge, Sakellaropoulou completed postgraduate studies at Paris's Sorbonne university.

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I spent MLK Day reading Stephen Miller’s racist emails — here’s why

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is in the pantheon of American heroes. He is honored with a national holiday. For those of us who write about American politics, life and society it is expected – rightly or wrongly – that on King's designated holiday we offer a comment, essay or some other thought about his legacy.

The expectation is even greater for black Americans and other nonwhites. Brother King was and is a gift to all Americans — and, yes, the world — but black people are the most direct beneficiaries of his struggle.

Every year brings more writing about King's legacy and the work which remains. Interviews and talks will be given. Brother King will be quoted. The "I Have a Dream Speech" and the March on Washington will be obsessively referenced by the mass media and others. Of course, the "Jobs and Freedom" part of the march will be left out.

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