Hong Kong activists use Pokemon Go and Tinder to organize as police crack down on ongoing protests

Hong Kong activists use Pokemon Go and Tinder to organize as police crack down on ongoing protests

hong kong protest
  • Protesters in Hong Kong have turned to innovative technologies like AirDrop and Tinder to spread information about the ongoing pro-democracy protests, despite increasingly brutal tactics by Hong Kong police. 
  • China is also using tech platforms to distribute information about the protest to mainlanders - pro-military propaganda videos shared via the Chinese version of TikTok.
  • While China has not yet intervened in the protests, which started against a proposed extradition bill which would send Hong Kongers charged with serious crimes to mainland China for trial, officials have warned against continued protest. A spokesperson for China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Bureau sent a warning to protesters, saying that "those who play with fire will perish by it."
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As protests in Hong Kong continue into their third month, the police response has become more violent, masked men with gang ties have beaten protesters, and the China government is making veiled threats. And as the crackdowns get more severe, activists are becoming more creative with their organizing tactics, using Tinder, Pokemon Go, and the iPhone AirDrop feature to organize. 

Tinder, the popular dating app, is one method of sharing information about demonstrations. Gavin Huang, an editor for Goldthread, shared a photo of a Tinder profile he encountered on Twitter.


The South China Morning Post reports that, while most online organizing is still done on LIHGK, Hong Kong's version of Reddit, protesters are exploring new ways of sharing information, including with Chinese mainlanders visiting Hong Kong. 

Read more: Pop star Denise Ho called for China's removal from the UN Human Rights Council over Hong Kong, and a Chinese diplomat tried to shut her down

Because the information mainlanders receive about the protests is limited to government propaganda, Hongkongers are using Airdrop to share information with them about why the protests are happening - namely, the desire for more democratic freedoms under semi-autonomous Chinese rule.


Protesters are also using the Apple feature to share protest information with each other, the South China Morning Post reported. 

Hong Kong police are turning to more alarming tactics for deterring protests and targeting activists, including marking protesters with colored ink, making them easier to track. Protesters have been using green lasers to obscure their faces on facial recognition cameras. 

While the Chinese government and armed forces are not directly involved in the protests, the government is also using 21st-century tech to spread its message about the protests. According to the outlet Abacus, the Chinese government is using Douyin, its version of Tiktok, to share video of an anti-riot drill by the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison. The video got 88 million likes. 


A spokesperson for China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Bureau warned protesters that "those who play with fire will perish by it," according to The Independent. The spokesperson, Yang Guang, released a document warning pro-democracy protesters that punishment from the mainland is "only a matter of time."

"I would like to warn all of the criminals: don't ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness," he wrote.

Yet the protests continue. When Hong Kong police refused to allow a demonstration in a suburban neighborhood, protesters told them they came to play Pokemon Go.