HK protesters use Tinder, Pokemon Go to spread messages

Hong Kong, Aug 6 (IANS) Protesters in Hong Kong are taking to Tinder, Pokemon Go and Apple's AirDrop to invite people to join them on the streets as the city rolls into its third month of unrest triggered by a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China.

Posting information about protests on Tinder is just one of several creative ways Hongkongers are using tech to mobilize people.

For more than eight weeks now, technology has been at the centre of demonstrations against the extradition bill, the South China Morning Post reported citing Abacus, an English-language news brand covering the China tech industry.

These demonstrations have now evolved into a catch-all movement against the local government and are causing disruptions.

The protesters are now demanding an independent inquiry into the police violence, resignation of the territory's Chief Executive Carrie Lam and democratic reform.

People primarily communicate through Telegram groups and stream their actions on gaming platform Twitch. But as violence has escalated, protesters are resorting to more unorthodox methods of organizing and communicating online.

One of those methods, apart from Tinder, is Pokemon Go.

When the Hong Kong police earlier denied protesters permission to march in one of the city's suburban neighbourhoods on safety grounds, the demonstrators decided to say that they weren't going for a march - they were just showing up for a game of Pokemon Go, said the report.

The march in Yuen Long town on July 27 was held in response to violent attacks on protesters during which more than 100 white-clad assailants, with some of those arrested having links to triad gangs, stormed into a train station in the area and attacked a group of pro-democracy protesters who were returning from a rally in the centre of Hong Kong.

Another way protesters are spreading their message is through Apple's AirDrop.

In the old days, people would walk the streets and distribute leaflets to communicate their political causes. These days, the political messages have moved to the cloud, with images sent directly to recipients' phones - unsolicited.

On Hong Kong subways, people have been receiving posters inviting them to protest through the service that allows Apple devices to send files to each other. The latest call to action involved a general strike that was held on Monday.

The tool has also been used to communicate with tourists from mainland China.

China's Great Firewall has largely limited reports on the Hong Kong protests to those in line with government views. This includes information found on social media such as Douyin -- China's version of TikTok.

Since AirDrop is peer-to-peer, protesters are able to send information directly to mainland tourists travelling to Hong Kong.

--IANS

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