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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.

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“We identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests.”

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.

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

“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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2020 Election

A historian of Nazi Germany explains why the divided opposition to Trump should terrify you

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As we witnessed in the third Democratic primary debate last week, Democratic presidential candidates are struggling to distinguish themselves from their party rivals and competing for endorsements. Their horizontal vision in these disagreements diverts their gaze from the peril we face as Donald Trump dismantles the norms that have guided our political life since 1776.

Whatever their differences, Democratic candidates must agree to broad principles related to key issues, for example, immigration, health care, and the growing wealth gap. A general consensus would leave plenty of room for healthy debates about implementation, but failure to emphasize shared ideals in relationship to two or three major questions will blunt Democrats’ offensive against a candidate whose campaign is based on slander and fear.

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2020 Election

Trump’s longshot bid to win New Mexico has political leaders baffled: ‘He’s a batsh*t racist’

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Despite losing New Mexico by eight points in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump and his campaign manager Brad Pascale are making big plans to win the state in 2020 -- and that has political observers baffled.

With Trump appearing in New Mexico on Monday night, Politico reports the president has his work cut out for him in a state that saw the GOP lose the governorship and one House seat in 2018.

"The Land of Enchantment has voted for a Republican presidential candidate only once since 1992. With a considerable nonwhite voter population and all-Democratic congressional delegation, it’s not exactly fertile ground for a surprise GOP victory," the report notes before adding that Parscale feels they can make inroads this go-around.

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Commentary

Why won’t the Democrats talk openly about impeachment?

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The ABC/Univision Democratic debate last week ran a bit more smoothly than the previous two, even managing to squeeze in a decent discussion on climate change and Afghanistan policy. These events are always more theater than substance, particularly with so many people on the stage. But early debates in the primary season are where engaged partisan voters outside the early states get a chance to see the larger field of candidates and develop a sense of where the party's center of gravity is in the current election cycle.

This article was originally published at Salon

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