Hong Kong police have made 621 requests to remove social media posts allegedly containing misinformation or defamatory content since January.
The government statistics released on Wednesday did not reveal the number of requests accepted but only described them as partially acceded to.
The number of requests in 2019 marked a significant increase from the 81 made in 2017 and 32 in 2018.
Police also made 34 requests to remove posts on other websites since the start of 2019, which were partially acceded to. The figures represented a climb from five requests made in 2017 and six in 2018.
The Innovation and Technology Bureau published the statistics in response to a question from Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui at the Legislative Council.
‘Twist the facts’
Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang said in a written reply that the police, while carrying out their duties, may request information or co-operation from relevant people or organisations.
“In doing so, the police will make the requests in accordance with the laws, procedures or guidelines related to their duties, and such requests would only be made when necessary for performing their duties,” he said. “The circumstances of each case are unique. The police will not comment on individual cases.”
Yang said the police will take strict law enforcement actions in a fair and impartial manner against illegal activities.
“Over the past few months, a lot of false information has been circulated online and [on] social media, especially a vast amount of fake news and baseless accusations that targeted the police. Most of these unsubstantiated messages twist the facts, create panic in the community, deepen confrontation and division in society, and disrupt police-community relations,” he said.
“The Government strongly condemn the wilful spread of these rumours online, and will endeavour to provide the relevant facts and information to dispel the false information.”
Hong Kong police have been under increasing scrutiny for their handling of mass pro-democracy protests, which have roiled the city for over 6 months. Chris Tang, the new police commissioner, has condemned a rise in online fake news, saying that such a trend could undermine the credibility of the force.
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