Twitter and Facebook have removed accounts originating in China responsible for spreading misinformation about Hong Kong protesters, including the #BoycottMulan campaign. According to an announcement made by Twitter on Monday, the accounts were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.” After an internal investigation, the company also said there was “reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation.”
The “Mulan” boycott originated last week, after the movie’s Chinese-born star Liu Yifei shared a propaganda post in support of the police during the ongoing anti-government protests that have swept through Hong Kong in recent weeks. The post was praised by the government but drew ire from dissenters in Hong Kong as well as those in the international community, due to claims by international human rights groups of alleged police brutality against demonstrators.
“Covert, manipulative behaviors have no place on our service — they violate the fundamental principles on which our company is built,” read Twitter’s statement. “These deceptive strategies have been around for far longer than Twitter has existed. They adapt and change as the geopolitical terrain evolves worldwide and as new technologies emerge. For our part, we are committed to understanding and combating how bad-faith actors use our services. … We will continue to be vigilant, learning from this network and proactively enforcing our policies to serve the public conversation.”
Facebook responded by deleting 16 pages linked to the same operation.
Liu’s post, shared on China’s Facebook equivalent Weibo, was an image from China’s Communist party newspaper The People’s Daily. The image read ‘I support the Hong Kong police; you can beat me up now’ in Chinese and ‘What a shame for Hong Kong’ below in English. Since its posting last week, Liu’s post has been liked over 75,000 times and shared over 65,000 times.
Since Liu’s post, social media platforms — including those blocked in China, like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter — have been flooded with calls to #BoycottMulan. Disney is set to release the Niki Caro-directed remake of the animated classic next March.
Earlier this week, both Jackie Chan and Tony Leung Ka-fai voiced their support for the Beijing police force in interviews.