Hong Kong’s Young Activists Are Using Tinder To Organize Protests

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Hong Kong Protestors use apps like Tinder to Organize

Swipe right for romance and… revolution? As the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong continue into their third month, and the police response has become violent, demonstrators are growing increasingly creative in their tactics. Tech-savvy activists are now turning to their favorite mobile apps - including Telegram, WhatsApp, Pokemon Go and Tinder - to organize demonstrations and share tips for evading authorities.

Gavin Huang, an editor for the Chinese culture website Goldthread, took to Twitter to share a photo of a Tinder profile he encountered. “So it’s come to this,” he wrote on August 1, “I’m getting protest info on Tinder.” The attached screenshot shows a profile picture with a schedule of protest events and a bio inviting curious swipers to join a strike.

According to Business Insider, the profile Huang stumbled upon is one of several attempting to recruit protesters via Tinder. Kim, a 22-year-old activist who has been taking part in the protests, told Business Insider she is doing everything she can to persuade others to join the cause. "We try to make use of all the technical possibilities available. We are forced to be smarter than the government and the police, otherwise, we don't stand a chance," she said.

Posting information about protests on Tinder is just one of many imaginative ways protesters are using technology to mobilize people. Organizers have been using Telegram groups and the Reddit-esque regional chat website LIHKG to connect. Another young activist, Chan, told Business Insider he prefers to communicate with fellow activists through Line because “it's not run by the Chinese government or in a country near the authoritarian state” and Telegram because “you can have secret chats that aren't disturbed by other organizations, governments or government agencies.”

One of the most ingenious applications of popular mobile apps occurred at the beginning of August. When police tried to ban a demonstration taking place in a park, protesters insisted they were just there to meet up and play Pokemon Go. Instead, they were using the app’s chat feature to discuss new strategies for protesting.

Protestors have also been spreading their message through Apple’s AirDrop, using Twitch to stream their actions, and placing Uber pick-ups with the drivers’ GPS disabled to leave the scene.

Their creative tactics are paying off. On Sunday, August 18, a record number of protestors took to the streets. An estimated 1.7 million people defied police orders to stage a peaceful march in Hong Kong’s central business district, despite torrential rain.