Blocked Facebook users: Is that freedom of expression?
Updated 22:58, 22-Aug-2019
He Weiwei

Twitter and Facebook have shut down accounts alleged to being part of an online campaign to discredit Hong Kong's violent protesters. CGTN managed to interview two Facebook users in Hong Kong, who have had their accounts blocked.

At this moment, CGTN can't confirm these are among the accounts that Facebook announced to have shut down in the company's recent statement. But these two examples indicate such cases may not be isolated.

CGTN reached one man by phone call who claims to hold a Hong Kong permanent ID. For privacy and safety concern, he wishes to remain anonymous. He said he created a Facebook account on August 18 but couldn't log in after the second day. He said this happened even before he could post a word. He believes it was because he used a profile photo showing his support for the Hong Kong police.

Read more: 

Twitter, Facebook shut down accounts campaigning against rioters

What's happening in Hong Kong? Peaceful protests or riots?

"I believe (I got blocked) because that photo has Hong Kong police (on it). I think that's probably the reason. I think most protesters, they hate the police," he told CGTN.

"Hong Kong police, they are very professional, tolerant and hardworking. It's some of the protesters who have been violent. But right now most residents believe that the police, they do a lot of wrong things. That's not fair. That's the reason I want to express my views through social media, for example, Facebook and Twitter."

In response to what Facebook claimed as a China-backed online campaign, this man stressed that it's his own individual account, without any alleged organizations behind it.

"We don't get any money from other organizations…or from the Chinese government. We don't get any support (from) them. We just do what we believe we should do as Hong Kong residents. That's it. However, all our accounts were gone."

He claimed he has at least 20 friends in Hong Kong whose Facebook accounts appear to have been suspended for similar reasons.

Read more: Pro-democracy protests or separatist rioters?

Screenshot of Li Meng's suspended Facebook account. /CGTN Photo

Screenshot of Li Meng's suspended Facebook account. /CGTN Photo

The second man reached out by CGTN is Li Meng, a Chinese national working in Hong Kong. He said his two Facebook accounts were suspended months ago after he posted comments on what he considered inaccurate reports about the Chinese mainland.

"Some reports were biased and not true. And I left some different opinions and debated with other netizens. Since then I found that something went wrong with my account, and then I couldn't use it anymore," Li told CGTN.

Both men accuse Facebook of a double-standard.

"What is the freedom of expression that you (Facebook) claim? Freedom means that you are free to talk. Well, I'm not. My opinions are different from yours and you use that as an excuse to shut down my account?" Li asked angrily.

The other man said he's disappointed by what Facebook has done. "This is double standard. I think this is ridiculous."

It's unknown how many other such cases are there, leaving serious question marks over Facebook's standards.