In the last few months, there’s been plenty of attention paid toward the Hong Kong protests on social media, which have been ongoing since March 31.
Many videos and pictures have been shared to millions of users on platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, revealing the plights of Hong Kong citizens as they struggle with protecting their rights from their own police force, gang members, pepper spray and even a live bullet that was fired onto an 18-year-old protester, critically injuring him.
Social media has been an important weapon for the movement, allowing Hong Kong protestors to reveal the chaos of injustice brought by authoritarianism. Many videos and photographs have gone viral, shocking the world with the sounds of struggle and bloody images of Hong Kong protestors.
This has led to angry reactions of shock and a worldwide outcry toward the Communist Party of China (CPC). They are all united under a single allegiance: “Free Hong Kong.”
On Oct. 4, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, posted a photo on Twitter reading the same message many others have been calling for — “Fight for Freedom, Stand for Hong Kong.” But, it became clear how easily these social media connections can be tampered with.
Morey’s supportive tweet toward Hong Kong protestors was soon nowhere to be found. In replacement, Morey sent out another tweet with a regretful tone on how he was “merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation of one complicated event,” and that his actions in “no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”
In an attempt to alleviate China’s disapproval, the NBA posted an official statement saying that “the views expressed by (Morey) have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” and again drives in the point that “his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA,” according to The Washington Post.
Why was it Morey’s tweet, and not any of the other thousands of tweets criticizing the political agenda of the CPC, that was suddenly silenced? It had nothing to do with the message that was made, rather it is who Morey has ties with that made all the difference. Or more specifically, who the NBA’s capitalistic chains are tied to.
The Chinese market — containing approximately 1.5 billion people — is a priority target for American companies. Morey’s tweet is a threat that can break the monetary bond of millions flooding into the NBA, especially to his team.
The study “NBA Red Card” conducted by the Mailman Group shows that the Houston Rockets are the second-most favored NBA franchise in China, underneath the Golden State Warriors, according to NBC Sports.
Several others who are connected with the NBA have expressed disagreements and concerns with Morey’s statement, but this has only fueled the spark in critics’ eyes, turning controversy around the United States’ business relations with China into an infernal flame — uncontrollable and further spreading the advocacy across passionate internet users.
On Oct. 14, LeBron James garnered much controversy for his opinion on the Morey situation. The media asked him for his thoughts on how the NBA handled the situation:
“I’m not sure. I’m not really here to judge how the league handled the situation. I just think that when you’re misinformed, or you’re not educated about something — and I’m just talking about the tweet itself — you never know what the ramifications that can happen. And we've all seen what that did. Not only for our league, but for all of us in America. For people in China as well,” he said.
James, one of the most recognizable names in the NBA, has disappointed many with his unsupportive stance. But it's still significant to see the opinions turning against one of the most influential figures on the court, driving the nail of intolerance toward the choice of greed over human rights.
Ironically, every time businesses try to suppress the support for protestors, it only emphasizes their own censorship.
As our daily lives are permeated with the large organizations surrounding us, it's important for us to create opposition whenever they defend the violation of freedom.