Hong Kong’s extradition bill protesters have been named one of the 25 most influential people on the internet. This is the first year that anyone from the city has appeared on the list.
The annual list, now in its fifth year, is put together by Time magazine, a US-based news publication. Contenders are evaluated based on their global impact on social media as well as the overall ability to drive news. Other names on the list this year include US President Donald Trump, US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the school climate strikers (who are inspired by teen activist Greta Thunberg), singer Ariana Grande, the creator of the Instagram Egg, and K-pop giants BTS.
“The movement to preserve Hong Kong’s freedoms is leaderless by design,” wrote Time. “But while there’s no single organiser at the centre of the demonstrations sparked by the controversial extradition bill, there is still a centre to much of their organisation: online platforms put to effective use by protesters who want to stay both active and anonymous.”
Time pointed to the popular online forum LIHKG and the messaging app Telegram as the primary platforms used by protesters before and during the protests.
Telegram allows users to create group chats and broadcast messages, meaning they can discuss and coordinate plans as well as announce new updates on the protests.
LIHKG, meanwhile, lets users upvote or downvote threads, with the most popular threads appearing at the top of their pages. This means protesters can easily share all kinds of information with the public – from legal aid resources to effective ways to disable tear gas canisters. Users have also recently begun offering emotional support and counselling service as well.
This “crowdsourced approach” has earned the Hong Kong protesters global recognition.