Facebook as change? Political engagement in semi-democratic Hong Kong in its transition to universal suffrage

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-305
Journal / PublicationJournal of Asian Public Policy
Issue number3
Online published1 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


With the passage of time, technological innovations, different political and societal developments, the definition and forms of political engagements evolve. Facebook has become a form of political engagement that cannot be neglected, often, fostering and reinforcing other forms of political engagements, both new and traditional. The internet has played a transformative role in the development of political engagement and Facebook acts as a catalyst in such transformation. This paper will examine the relation between Facebook and political engagement in Hong Kong. In the semi-democratic, but essentially liberal, Hong Kong, no doubt, Facebook is an emerging indispensible political tool that cannot be undermined within the Hong Kong political arena. Recently, political parties, politicians, activists, those interested in politics in Hong Kong and even the government use the Facebook for different political purposes. It is more common for Hong Kong people to engage in Facebook politically at the cognitive awareness level rather than at the expression level and even less at the action level. Those who hold a more anti-establishment stand tend to have higher levels of Facebook political engagement in Hong Kong. The government mainly ‘soft-sells’ the government policy and shapes the government image in a positive way through its use of Facebook. Political party members in Hong Kong are very strategic in their effort on using Facebook to maximize votes for themselves, while social activists mainly use Facebook for information flow and exchange, promotion of activist acts, explaining their stand, thereby trying to affect the views of others. More importantly, Facebook brings together a group of like-minded activists, building up solidarity among them, thereby increasing their passion for social change. In short, Facebook makes politics more real and nearer to life. Though Facebook brings about change in political engagement in Hong Kong, this should not be exaggerated. Whether Facebook will remain a significant force in Hong Kong political scene depends on whether Facebook continues to enjoy widespread acceptance or becomes even more popular in Hong Kong.

Research Area(s)

  • Facebook, Hong Kong, internet, political engagement, political participation, semi-democratic