After months of protests in Hong Kong following proposals to allow extradition to mainland China, clashes between police and protesters have become more widespread and violent.
Police have fired teargas at protesters and shot them with rubber bullets, whilst protesters have thrown bricks and firebombs in return. On Friday last week, the Hong Kong authorities brought in an emergency law banning demonstrators from wearing masks, in an attempt to curtail the unrest, which has seen millions of people demonstrating on the streets over the last four months.
The ban is, so far, not working. The weekend saw widespread protests in response to the ban, by people worried about further infringements on their civil liberties. Many were, of course, wearing masks.
Following the protests, it emerged that several people have been arrested and charged under the new laws for covering up their faces.
Amid all this, people on social media, likely far away from the protests, have been sharing some pretty wild ideas about what is going on over there. One of the stranger ideas going around is that people are attending often quite violent protests whilst wearing wearable face projectors in order to not be recognized.
As cool as this tech is (and as dystopian as this would be), it is not remotely true that anyone is actually using it. As the Daily Dot pointed out, the video is from a 2017 art and design project by student Jing-Cai Lu.
The concept device was made by Lu and her team for the project Anonymous at the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht in the Netherlands, around the theme of "Dystopian Future".
"[A] small beamer projects a different appearance on your face, giving you a completely new appearance," Lu wrote on her website. "[The wearable device was] about staying anonymous in a fictional, futuristic world where face-recognizing is a big thing."
"In the future, the advertisement could call your name when you walk along the streets. The companies would know your personal interests and may set different retail strategies for you. It could be convenient for customers, but personal thoughts and opinions should be kept private. This product protects you from this privacy violation."
The video description has in fact been updated to make it clear that Lu's project "has NOTHING to do with political purposes!!!!!!!!!!!!" with 12 exclamation marks, to really hammer the point home.
Even if people were to get hold of the device (which is very much not in commercial production), by the looks of it it would be pretty impractical for a protest, given that you're essentially having a projector shining into your eyeballs whilst you attempt to dodge projectiles.
So as cool/horrifying as it is to believe, nobody is using this concept art in reality, so please stop spreading this false information.
Whilst we're here, this viral video of a badass protestor using "liquid nitrogen" to deal with tear gas turned out to be using a much simpler and widely available ingredient: mud.
[H/T: Daily Dot]