Police Launch New Mechanism To Fight Disinformation

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2022-08-16 HKT 00:05

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  • Joe Chan, right, and Karen Tsang of the police Public Relations Wing meet the media. Photo: RTHK

    Joe Chan, right, and Karen Tsang of the police Public Relations Wing meet the media. Photo: RTHK

The police said they have introduced a new mechanism that monitors public opinion online using big data in their continuing fight against disinformation.

And to boost the image of the force, the Police Public Relations Branch was upgraded to the Public Relations Wing, which is headed by assistant police commissioner Joe Chan.

"To combat disinformation, we have introduced a mechanism to track public opinion and intelligence around the clock. We understand from what happened in 2019 that fake news or disinformation could be destructive," chief superintendent Karen Tsang from the Public Relations Wing said.

"We feel that the police have the responsibility and the need to find disinformation as quickly as possible and to clarify it. The aim of the mechanism is to understand what's being escalated online or what kind of smearing is going on that needs clarification.

"If we fail to clarify in a timely manner, it may cause misunderstanding among the people, especially young people, about the government or the police, or even generate hatred."

Chan said the problem of disinformation has eased since the introduction of the national security law in 2020.

The assistant commissioner said the police have stepped up the fight against websites and platforms that spread fake news.

He also said relations between the police and the community could be affected by disinformation.

"I think we also notice that relations between the police and the people go up and down. But if we look closely, relations worsen over fake news or disinformation, causing people to hear certain views only and misunderstanding."

The senior officer made it clear the police respect press freedom as well as people's rights.

"On claims that press freedom is being restricted, first, this is not true. If it's restricted, many questions that you just asked would not have been allowed. Right? It shows that the force respects press freedom," Chan said.

He added that people are free to make comments online as long as they abide by the law.

Chan said the Public Relations Wing will take a more proactive approach in future to engage with the media and the community and build partnerships. He also highlighted the need to increase transparency and organise more publicity events.