By social media editor Melony Roy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With the widespread filtering, even blocking, of both traditional media Internet sites and social media sites by the Chinese government, Chinese-Americans have been finding other ways to keep tabs on the pro-democracy demonstrations taking place in Hong Kong.

Over the past several days the Hong Kong protests have exploded on social media, offering a different view of what’s really going on.

“I think what is portrayed on social media is more accurate than what is portrayed on traditional media,” says Melody Wong, a Philadelphia native who grew up in Hong Kong.  “I’ve been following it closely on Facebook, and I also get news through WhatsApp from my family.  But mostly Facebook,” she says.

She says independent journalists are posting Facebook updates hourly on the pages “HKverified” and “InMediaHK.”

Wong says the popular photo-sharing site Instagram was blocked for a period of time, causing some of the protesters to turn to the Bluetooth-based  messaging app Firechat.

“Firechat is a contingency (for protesters) if they turned off all the cell towers,” Wong explains, “so they could use their phones to connect with other people on the ground.”

On Twitter, several hashtags are being used to follow the developments in Hong Kong:  #OccupyCentral, #UmbrellaRevolution, and #928, which is the date the Occupy movement started in Hong Kong.

According to Twitter, there have been more than 1.3 million tweets about the protests in the ten days since they began.

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