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Enquiry regarding Hong Kong election guidelines and Facebook posting (23 May 2016)

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23 May 2016

Mr. George Chen
Head of Public Policy, Hong Kong & Taiwan

Dear George,

Enquiry regarding Hong Kong election guidelines and Facebook posting

Electoral Affairs Commission of the Hong Kong government has recently proposed guidelines on election-related materials published or distributed on social networking websites such as Facebook, with regulations governing the publication of ‘election advertisements’ using social media. Yet the scope of election advertisement on social media is not clear.

In view of the increasing use of Facebook in election campaigns of Hong Kong, such ambiguous rules can impose restrictions towards users’ freedom of expression. Please advise:

1. What is the cost (in HK dollars) incurred for the following actions performed on Facebook?

(i) Changing a profile picture or cover photo

(ii) Using hashtags (e.g. #你識條hashtag咩 #齊心滅鼠 #雙殺樹根)

(iii) Posting a status/note/video/photo

(iv) Tagging a Facebook user/page

(v) Commenting on a post

(vi) Replying to a post / comment

(vii) Doing a live broadcast using Facebook mentions

2. Does Facebook have mechanism to not allow users to change profile pictures during election period to show support to different candidates?

3. Can Facebook users set up groups to show support to candidates? Is there any restriction on content sharing related to elections?

4. Please explain Facebook’s stance on freedom of expression.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Mok
Legislative Councillor (IT)

Office Of Hon. Charles Mok, Legislative Councillor (IT)