Conspiracy Theories and OSINT HK

This is an extremely interesting and extensive essay on how the information environment in Hong Kong has deteriorated to the extent that conspiracy theories can thrive, which erodes the functioning of society. The blame is (in my opinion correctly) placed squarely on Hong Kong’s institutions for their lack of transparency and accountability, including punishing people who put their head above the parapet to criticise them. (One horrifying example is that injuries are not being recorded because protesters are using “Secret Clinics” instead of public hospitals so that police-supporting doctors can’t divulge their private details to the authorities. This is harmful in the obvious health sense, in the mistrust of institutions which could hurt during a public health emergency, and in hiding the true extent of injuries which adds to the cycle of conspiracy theorising).

There is also some discussion of the OSINT HK efforts to use publicly available information to reach rigorous conclusions about reality, which unfortunately seem to be based on Twitter, a platform that is not particularly suited for in-depth analyses. Data scientists should be involved with this and I intend to contact the project leaders.