Protesters pass test of Time

Top News | Sophie Hui 18 Jul 2019

Time magazine has named Hong Kong protesters among its 25 most influential people on the internet, alongside US President Donald Trump and Swedish student activist Greta Thunberg.

It is the fifth year the magazine has published its roundup of the most influential people on the internet by evaluating them on their impact to the world on social media and their overall ability to drive news.

The magazine said the "movement to preserve Hong Kong's freedoms" is "leaderless by design" but protesters put online platforms to effective use to help them "stay both active and anonymous."

It said users on online forum Lihkg and encrypted chat app Telegram "have been tied to everything from a march past foreign consulates to a siege of police headquarters."

An administrator of a Telegram channel who participated in the protests told the magazine that the process is "more of a direct democracy."

Users "upvote threads" to indicate support for a suggested course of action on Lihkg, which helps to spread the topic and draw more attention.

Protesters are also able to mobilize or change their tactics by the polling and message broadcasting functions on Telegram, as well as discuss plans in chat groups.

Other aspects of the protests are also coordinated online, including relaying to people about upcoming protests, sharing legal aid resources and offering counseling services and support.

The magazine said although actions like storming the Legislative Council have drawn backlash and some people have been arrested, protesters "empowered by their crowd-sourced approach" have vowed to keep up the fight.

"We believe in the power of people because when we are a collection of minds, we must be able to make better decisions than maybe just a group of students or leaders," pro-democracy activist Ventus Lau Wing-hong said.

Also named on the list is "School Strikers," a worldwide movement started by Swedish teenager Thunberg to draw attention to climate change.

Other influential figures on the internet include South Korean boy band BTS, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, China's internet celebrity Zhang Dayi, and freshman US House of Representative member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com

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