How protesters in Hong Kong stay connected on social media

Some protesters in Hong Kong are turning to the messaging app Telegram as a secure way to communicate amongst each other and coordinate demonstrations.

Fusion’s Mariana Atencio interviewed a protester who said the application is more reliable than looking at the news. “The information is provided by our friends,” she said. “We trust our friends.”

Telegram defines itself as “a messaging app with a focus on speed and security,” a combination of SMS and email that allows you to “create groups for up to 200 people or send broadcasts to up to 100 contacts.” The application also claims to be a “non-commercial project” and prioritizes encryption to protect personal data and private conversations from lurking third parties.

Hong Kong students are also using Firechat, an application that allows users to send messages without an Internet connection or cellular coverage. The user is able to communicate with other nearby devices via Bluetooth. The information exchanged is public, but authorities cannot shut it down. Moreover, it creates a “mesh network,” establishing a temporary Internet that grows as more devices come together.

Hong Hong students and youth have taken to the streets to protest the government’s broken promise of autonomous elections. The student-led movement for democracy — dubbed Occupy Central — is demanding the resignation of the city’s leader CY Leung, alleging he’s yielded to political pressures exerted from Beijing.

Although protesters have clashed with frustrated residents and opponents of the movement, demonstrations have been mostly peaceful.

New technologies have proven to be valuable tools for the organization and coordination of protesters, giving demonstrators anonymity and security they cannot obtain on mainstream social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.