By: Masato Kajimoto & Anne Kruger; The University of Hong Kong
During the Occupy Central protests that occurred in Hong Kong during the Fall of 2014, rumors swirled online of disruptions in the lives of Hong Kong citizens without including context and supporting evidence. The following explores two of these “reports”.
One of the rumors spread on social media told the story of a pregnant woman delaying giving birth due to protest blocking traffic. The rumor went on to say that the newborn suffered due to oxygen deprivation due to the delay.
Upon further investigation however, the Hospital Authority later confirmed there was no such case that day, and the Hospital in question, Ruttonjee Hospital does not even have an obstetrics department.
During your exploration of this case, ask students:
What are you told in the report?
What are you not told?
How should the news consumer approach a report like this one coming from social media?
Where might there be gaps in the information being passed?
A “Battered” Police Officer
Another internet rumor that was passed during the protests made social media headlines when an actual Public Relations officer from the Chief Executive's office shared a photo on his Facebook, hoping to drum up support for the police officers who were fighting to maintain order in the central business district. Information Coordinator Andrew Fung Wai Kwong posted a photo of a police officer with his face covered in blood:
However, upon later investigation, the photo was discovered to be of an actor who was portraying a zombified police officer for an upcoming television show.
What steps might the official have taken before posting the photo above?
What might have been your reaction to the photo after seeing it online?
What questions might the receiver of this photo need to ask themselves upon seeing it, and before sharing it themselves?