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Evernote app allows Hong Kong protestors to get their stories out

Protesters have found a way to circumvent the Chinese government's tight grip on news reporting, especially concerning the protests taking place in Hong Kong over the last three weeks.

Evernote helps journalists share information on protests
Evernote is a California-based app that allows users to create personal to-do lists, clip web pages and share notes with friends and coworkers. The app has become popular with young professionals and students in China because it allows them to share stories and comments about the protests taking place. Certain search criteria like "umbrella" and "support students" are blocked on blogging websites and messaging apps. Hong Kong users of microblog Weibo and messaging service WeChat find their links, articles and photos do not reach their destination, reported Quartz.

As a result, Internet users in China are posting news on the protests through Evernote by copying and pasting articles into notes that can be shared on the app. Two Chinese journalists in Hong Kong recently told Quartz that their stories on the protests can be accessed through Evernote first, and then later be shared on WeChat.

"[The censorship] is very serious. Evernote can be used, but articles directly posted in WeChat public accounts will be immediately deleted," said one anonymous mainland journalist, reported the news source.

Evernote slipped through the cracks
Because of Evernote, news readers in mainland China have been able to follow the protests and read articles that criticize the Chinese government for censorship and brainwashing the country's youth. A notable story on Evernote is by Zou Sicong, a popular Chinese journalist and blogger in Hong Kong. His story describes a government without legitimacy as "a cancer."

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as other social media sites are blocked from access in China because regulators are not able to control their content. Evernote warned that their Chinese version, Yinxiang Biji, is subject to Chinese regulations and that user data may be accessed by authorities. The company also mentioned that users can access the international version, which relies on servers in the U.S. and is beyond the reach of censors in China.

"Users of Yinxiang Biji should be aware that Chinese authorities may have the right to access their data according to current regulations," the company said, according to Quartz. 

The Chinese government may move to ban the use of Evernote, but until now it has worked primarily because it was not seen as a platform for sharing news. Previously, it was simply considered a digital workspace. The app launched in China in 2012 and regulators concluded that the app would not present any problems and not require censorship. Jeremy Goldkorn, an expert on Chinese media, commented that the government only cares about what can be shared.

"The Chinese government does not operate a real thought police; they don't care what you think, or what you save on a server if it is accessible only to you," said Goldkorn, according to Quartz.

Interestingly, China Digital Times, a news website that collects censored and uncensored Chinese news, uses Evernote to share photos and reports of the protests in Hong Kong.

The protests continue in Hong Kong
Recently, in Hong Kong, police arrested three men in a pro-democracy protest zone of the city. Local television showed police using pepper spray on protesters and the confrontation was believed to have been caused by a man using a camera flash to provoke the police, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

The pro-democracy protests have been going on in Hong Kong for the last six weeks and currently it does not seem there is any hope of resolution. Protesters plan to march on Sunday to call for talks with China's government. The march is organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, a group affiliated with a pro-democracy camp in the city.

It does not seem that protesters will back down anytime soon, and the government is unlikely to make any significant changes, either. Presumably, tensions and protests will continue for some time. Fortunately, despite their best efforts, the Chinese government cannot ban or censor everything on the Internet. News from the protests will continue to leak out and the world will know the truth about what is happening on the ground.

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