Hong Kong reels in outraged disbelief and horror today at suggestions that money laundering takes place in the city.
For years, we’ve assumed that hundreds of people line up all day, every day at New Territories bank branches to deposit identical sums of cash for totally innocent and wholesome reasons, and that money-changers line the streets purely for tourists’ convenience, and that real-estate transactions involving multiple apartments at weird prices must obviously be perfectly legitimate. And we all know that China is destined for ever-greater prosperity and success, while the West is collapsing into chaos – so no-one could possibly want to illicitly move their wealth out of the Mainland into doomed democracies, could they?
Meanwhile Hong Kong’s former Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Ho, facing bribery charges in the US, has asked for help from Beijing, describing the case as an attempt to discredit ‘Belt and Road’, and pledged not to betray his friends and country. If I were in his position and I wanted to hint to higher powers that I might squeal, this is how I would do it – perhaps. But I’m no expert.
For anyone following the Invasion of the Fake Twitter Accounts Saga, the bot plot clots thickens. Out of the flood of phony followers, one reveals himself as a genuine person. Basically: highly respected techie-type goes through the fairly tedious and hard-to-automate steps involved in joining Twitter and becomes an apparent ‘bot’.
It seems that if (out of haste or indifference) you just follow the default sign-up steps, you not only get that anonymous grey head-and-shoulders picture, but you are assigned a clunky username with lots of numbers, and pretty much invited to follow a bunch of existing accounts – some based on your geographical location, some big famous international celebs.
Why would there be a sudden flood of these? A mysterious puppet-master is a possibility. But another explanation is that some other app or online service (for kiddies, I bet) is requiring new subscribers to open a Twitter account, as some require a Facebook one (Facebook’s recent fall from grace being a possible factor). Not everyone is convinced, but I like this theory – it is non-creepy and restores my faith in tech and human nature.
Tomorrow is May 1 – here is your guidance on recommended reading.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another – today’s neighbourhood mystery…