3 to Read: Precautions in Hong Kong | Social media as search engines | Bypassing a news blackout

Precautions in Hong Kong: Apple Daily, a pro-democracy investigative paper in Hong Kong, made international headlines in the wake of a government raid of its offices and the arrest of its founder, Jimmy Lai. The paper has been vocal in its critiques of Hong Kong leaders and in its support for pro-democracy protests. However, since the new national security law passed in late June, reporters at the Apple Daily have been taking precautions to protect themselves, Tiffany May and Austin Ramzy write for the New York Times. These include deleting the contact information of certain sources, moving sensitive information to private servers in different countries and disabling tools like autosaved passwords. Locals have also taken a stand to support the paper, both by purchasing physical copies and investing in Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital.

Social media as search engines: During the Covid-19 pandemic, more people than ever are using their social media feeds as search engines. However, vast amounts of information about coronavirus circulating on sites like Facebook and Instagram is not credible. This disconnect between the large number of people searching for information and the small amount of verified information circulating creates what’s known as a data void. Writing for NiemanLab, Tommy Shane examines how data voids contribute to the circulation of misinformation, and points to possible solutions.

Bypassing a news blackout: Amid the largest protest in the history of Belarus, independent journalists and state-run media alike were nowhere to be found. The demonstrations against President Aleksandr Lukashenko resulted in an internet shut down, blocking access to news sites and social media. A messaging app called Nexta managed to bypass the blackout, Diana Kuryshko writes for BBC, allowing updates on police activity, protest instructions and legal resources to reach the demonstrators. The app, which mostly publishes content submitted by its users, now has an audience of over a million. However, its reliance on unverified information and anonymous sources has garnered criticism from journalists who see the circulation of unverified information as dangerous.

By Maya Homan & Matt Carroll

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