Digitalization is no longer merely dominated by business and industry. The millennials also utilizes technology in demonstration. Hong Kong protesters are digitally trying to avoid scrutiny, surveillance, monitoring, and possible future lawsuits.
Deactivate location which possibly lead to tracking their cellphones, using cash to buy train tickets and removing their social media conversations are now part of daily routine for the Hong Kong protesters .
Many of those on the streets are mostly young and growing up in the digital world. They all feel disturbed by cyber surveillance. Afraid to leave their mark online. Lately, protesters wear face masks, goggles, helmets and hats – all to protect themselves from tear gas, pepper-spray and rubber bullets. Especially, to make it difficult to identify them.
Lots of them turned off location tracking on their smartphones and improved their digital privacy settings before joining the protest. Most common way is removing conversations and photos on social media and messaging applications after they left the protest scene.
Extraordinary long queuing line at the ticket machines is regular view at Hong Kong’s underground metro stations. Protesters use cash to buy tickets rather than using Octopus cards everywhere in the city – to prevent their movements easily tracked.
Protesters in Hong Kong use lasers to distract security forces and to avoid facial recognition cameras on the streets. A video posted by freelance journalist Alessandra Bocchi reveals tactics against police cameras, while a separate video by the BBC shows protesters pointing lasers at a policeman’s face.
The protesters have used numbers of technological tricks to stay ahead of security forces, such as using virtual private networks (VPN) to hide their digital identities.
People in big cities are familiar with WhatsApp. The apps is so massive that makes the protesters switched to Telegram, encrypted messaging application. They believe the chat app can provide better cyber protection. The unofficial brand of terrorists’ app allows larger groups to coordinate. Besides Telegram, they are venturing into other smartphone apps such as Twitch.
The demonstrators who spoke with the media were only willing to give their first or last name due to sensitivity of the subject. No protesters without face masks. The use of masks actually opens room for rioters. And it becomes more difficult to identify who is really a protester and which is not.
Previously, they invite more protesters by inviting people via the online dating apps, Tinder. Requested anyone who saw their profile to swipe right and join the opposition movement. Pokémon GO certainly not left behind in an attempt to trick the police. If caught red-handed, their excuse will be ‘to catch pokemon’.
It is also known that information about the demonstrators’ movements is spread through AirDrop to every stranger who turns on Apple’s cellular service around them. With AirDrop, iPhone users can send photos and notes instantly to others without being caught by many people.
Other methods are by posting posts on forums such as LIHKG (Hong Kong version of Reddit) and uploading videos with an invitation in Douyin (Chinese version of TikTok). Apart from the hilarious digitalization of Hong Kong protesters method, their main reason for the underlining is “try to run and hide from law enforcement”.