torsdag 16. april 2020

Chinese troll campaign on Twitter exposes a potentially dangerous disconnect with the wider world

At first, it seemed like a straightforward Chinese internet controversy. After Thai actor Vachirawit Chivaaree liked a photo on Twitter that listed Hong Kong as a "country," Chinese fans inundated his Instagram and other social media with comments "correcting" him, and he soon posted an apology for his "lack of caution talking about Hong Kong," which is a semi-autonomous Chinese city, and not an independent nation.

Vachirawit, who goes by the name "Bright," was not the first foreign celebrity or brand to cause offense in China by mischaracterizing issues related to Hong Kong or Taiwan, or by crossing numerous other political red lines familiar to those within China's Great Firewall.
Nor was he the first to try to apologize, only to have more alleged transgressions dredged up by nationalist Chinese web users looking for a new scalp.

For years, Chinese internet nationalists have leapfrogged the Great Firewall to go after the country's critics on banned social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They've attacked pages run by the Taiwanese government, pro-Uyghur groups, and businesses deemed to have offended China, inundating them with abusive posts and clogging up their timelines.