You reap what you sow

A major mouth-froth eruption over headlines on Bloomberg’s subscriber-only terminal news service…

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government today (March 6) strongly disapproved of and condemned Bloomberg’s news headlines “HK says Telegram should be prohibited in Article 23 proposal” and “HK says Signal should be prohibited in Article 23 proposal”, and its report headlined “HK Security Law Public Consultation Lists Facebook, YouTube Ban”, which falsely reported that the HKSAR Government would legislate to ban the operation of the mentioned platforms in Hong Kong, thereby generating misunderstanding and panic regarding the legislative proposals on Article 23 of the Basic Law.

The two headlines (from what I gather) had no stories attached, and stayed up for less than half an hour before someone realized the mistake. There was indeed an error: the proposals that Hong Kong ban social media were included in a summary of feedback (starts page 119) from the public consultation on the Article 23 National Security Law. However, the headline of the report, stating that a Facebook and YouTube ban was listed in the summary, was accurate, and (again, from what I gather) the story did not state that the government was planning a ban.

Although only subscribers would have seen the headlines, word got around pretty quickly. Hence the outraged press statement, which went on…

…the report in question only one-sidedly handpicked three entries of submissions received among all others and completed it with a biased headline, attempting to mislead the international community and members of the public in the HKSAR in believing that the HKSAR Government is going to accept such views or to prohibit the relevant platforms from operating in the HKSAR. Its intention is indeed suspicious. The fake news as published by Bloomberg has undermined its trustworthiness and credibility in the media sector. 

Now officials are furiously denying that they have any intention to ban social media. (RTHK story. The Standard’s. And Bloomberg’s – somewhat updated.)

The government’s extreme reaction to an editorial mistake (‘attempting to mislead’, ‘indeed suspicious’, ‘fake news’) has a slight hand-caught-in-cookie-jar, protesting-too-much feel to it. (And of course the authorities have considered laws against ‘fake news’.)

The fact that the rumour (‘HK to ban Signal, Telegram’) spread so quickly suggests that many people believe such a measure is possible in today’s Hong Kong. Which wouldn’t be surprising after months and months of dire warnings from Security Bureau and other officials about ‘foreign forces’, supposed terrorist plots, overseas ‘fugitives’, the evils of ‘soft resistance’ – not to mention a desire to ban certain YouTube videos. Meanwhile, the handful of government-friendly figures who suggest that the authorities tone down the NatSec rhetoric have been criticized by ‘patriots’. 

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8 Responses to You reap what you sow

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    “Chan, a member of the Federation of Trade Unions, fired back that Tsang has “become a traitor in such a critical time” in her video posted on YouTube on Friday.” ~ The Standard

    No irony there (getting her POV out via YouTube)?

  2. WipeTheDust says:

    They banned Tiktok (and are having a hard time with the 20-something set, go figure). Other bans wouldn’t be surprising.

  3. Mary Melville says:

    FTU has a grudge. It feels that DAB was favoured in the Legco and DC revamps, more appointments generating more rice bowl filling for folk, like Joephy – father ex vice chair of FTU, who have never held a real job.

  4. Goatboy says:

    George Chen reckons Bloomberg did it deliberately, and who would argue with him?

  5. Formerly Known As... says:

    Ban Bloomberg! Lol.

    This Joephy Chan clown went to school and university in the UK. How the hell did she happen? Daddy being a bigwig in the FTU obviously a big influence in how she’s turned out.

    Back in the day when we also had the HKCTU and I had difficulty in remembering which was which group of unions it was easy once I realised the “F” in HKFTU was for “Fascist”.

  6. Justsayin says:

    No vexation without Mainlandisation would be a potential headline for this bit of news

  7. Low Profile says:

    Ironic to see Tsang Yok-sing being called a traitor, considering he was a steadfast “patriot” long before most of the current crop of LegCo babes were out of nappies. Perhaps they resent the fact that he shows occasional signs of having a mind of his own.

  8. wmjp says:

    Slanders and Smears (S’n S) has a nice alliterative ring to it, at least in English, but in the vast majority of cases where it is used, it is incorrect – according to the law. A newspaper, for example, can never commit slander (an oral statement). It can only commit libel (a written statement).
    You might think that a professional so-called lawyer might put right his colleagues, the two ex-policemen, on a fine distinction of law but who are we to wonder at the way of the supposedly wise?

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