Taiwan Minister Warns of Disinformation from China: "Information Manipulation Affects Democracy"

Taiwan Minister Warns of Disinformation from China: "Information Manipulation Affects Democracy"

In Taiwan, where there is heightened vigilance against information manipulation from China, comprehensive measures are being undertaken to counter misinformation and disinformation. These measures include fact-checking, media literacy, and the establishment of legal frameworks.

The Japan Fact-Check Center (JFC) conducted an interview with the Minister without Portfolio, Lo Ping-cheng, who is comprehensively responsible for the government's coordinative efforts against disinformation.

The Impact of Disinformation on Elections

The presidential election in Taiwan got global attention, particularly concerning the spread of disinformation and the influence from China. What was the actual impact of these factors?

"It's challenging to present clear indicators, but our analysis suggests that disinformation had a certain impact on the elections. Much of it appears to have originated from China."

Do you have specific data?

"We have various data points, but for instance, an analysis conducted by Taiwan AI Lab on TikTok revealed that 62% of the content related to China was favorable towards China, endorsing the idea of unification with Taiwan. Conversely, 95% of the content mentioning Taiwan was negative, with narratives suggesting the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is leading Taiwan to ruin. Regarding the newly elected DPP president, Lai Ching-te, 67% of the content was negative, whereas for the defeated People's Party candidate, Ko Wen-je, 76% was favorable."

"These figures are exceedingly unnatural. There is a concerted effort involving comments by individuals associated with the Chinese government, influence campaigns targeting influencers, and the manipulation of algorithms. It appears to be a sophisticated information operation."

Taiwan AI Lab report on the election

According to a report by the Taiwan AI Lab, a study of the top spreading discourses on TikTok after filtering for specific keywords and removing duplicates found that pro-China and anti-Taiwan messages were by far the most common, respectively. The analysis also found that there were many anti-Japan messages.

In 2019, the Taiwanese government compiled a comprehensive package of measures to combat disinformation. What measures were implemented in this election, and how effective were they?

"The issue isn't just misinformation. The broader concern is how information manipulation poses a threat to democracy. The internet, while immensely beneficial, also facilitates the spread of harmful content that endangers democracy. A comprehensive approach is necessary to fully grasp and address this challenge."

How did the government respond?

"In a democratic society, restricting content through legislation is not the preferred method; it is a last resort. However, under certain circumstances, it becomes a necessary measure. I am aware that some countries have already started implementing legal regulations, though situations vary from one country to another. For example, the European Union has the Digital Services Act, and the United Kingdom has the Online Safety Act . These can be considered relatively good examples of addressing the issue from a broader perspective. They focus on holding social media platforms accountable and ensuring they take the necessary actions. There are lessons here for us as well."

What is the current state of legal regulation in Taiwan?

"In 2022, Taiwan attempted to introduce the bill  similar to the Digital Services Act and the Online Safety Bill, but they did not pass due to opposition from the opposition parties and public opinion. In our society, there's a strong caution against regulating the internet."

"As a result, we do not have laws that comprehensively regulate social media platforms. Our regulations are limited to specific content, such as child pornography, internet advertisements with fraud contents, and AI-generated images and videos during elections. I believe there's much more we need to do."

Taiwan Government's Countermeasures Against Disinformation

The Taiwanese government has compiled a comprehensive set of measures to combat disinformation, focusing on four main strategies: identification, verification, suppression, and punishment. These efforts are undertaken in collaboration not only by the government but also with fact-checking organizations and others.

The risks to freedom of speech

Regarding legal regulations, there are concerns about compromising freedom of speech.

"Both Japan and Taiwan are democracies, where the rule of law and freedom of speech are paramount. Regulatory measures through laws are seen as the last resort. The Digital Services Act of the EU and the Online Safety Act l of the UK are relatively new, and it remains to be seen how effective they will be and whether they will have any adverse effects on freedom of speech."

"Not just government efforts, but verifying misinformation by independent fact-checking organizations is crucial. And, in the long term, the promotion of media literacy is key. It's not about which of these is more important; all three pillars are necessary, and cooperation among all stakeholders is essential."

How to work with fact-checking organizations

The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) calls for fairness and nonpartisanship as principles of fact-checking. How is the Taiwan government working with fact-checking organizations?

"The independence of fact-checking organizations is crucially important, as it directly relates to their credibility in society. Fortunately, in Taiwan, fact-checking bodies have maintained their independence. They are neutral and have gained the trust of society, not serving as spokespeople for the government."

So, in what areas are you deepening cooperation?

"While the Taiwanese government respects the independence and role of fact-checking institutions, it has also engaged in numerous cooperative projects to promote media literacy. Such cooperation does not compromise independence. We invite fact-checking organizations to government events to help inform attendees about fact-checking and media literacy. Conversely, myself and other government officials sometimes participate in events organized by fact-checking groups."

Taiwan Fact-check Center

The Taiwan Fact-Check Center (TFC) employs 17 full-time staff members, not only for fact-checking purposes but also includes an education team dedicated to promoting media literacy.

Social Media Platforms Initiatives

Cooperation among all stakeholders is essential in combating disinformation and information manipulation. What is the relationship between social media operators, where information dissemination occurs, and the government?

"Collaboration with social media platforms is essential. In Taiwan, initiatives with Google, Meta, and LINE began in 2019. These platforms established contact points with relevant Taiwanese ministries before the elections. The Taiwanese government has also partnered in LINE's efforts to verify information in cooperation with Taiwanese fact-checking organizations."

Does this mean a form of cooperation that includes fact-checking organizations?

"For example, when it comes to verifying misinformation, the relevant ministries respond swiftly with the necessary information and confirmations. When fact-checking organizations reach out to social media platforms, those platforms act to remove the information or limit its spread, not based on government directives, but in response to reports from the fact-checking organizations."

How to respond to polarization that divides society

In conversations with people in Taiwan during this election, there are widespread comments that "the division between supporters of the ruling and opposition parties has deepened." It suggests that the kind of political polarization seen in the United States is also becoming evident in Taiwan.

"Taiwan faces the presence of China as its nearest neighbor, which seeks to manipulate our public opinion and threatens us with military force. In Taiwan, there are those who are pro-China and those who strive to protect Taiwan's sovereignty. Such differences in opinion provide China with opportunities to intervene in Taiwan and enable election interference and polarization of public opinion."

As polarization intensifies, engaging in calm and democratic discussions with those holding differing opinions becomes challenging, leading to societal instability. Are there any measures to address this issue?

"How to address this polarization is a challenging dilemma many democratic nations face. The question of how to maintain social cohesion in defense of democracy is paramount. Personally, I believe there is no single, ultimate solution to counter information manipulation and cognitive warfare. A long-term strategy is necessary."

What specific initiatives are to address this issue?

"We need to nurture the younger generations to believe in the values of democracy and to bear responsibility as digital citizens who trust in a democratic society. This is essential for defending against information manipulation."

These are long-term measures that should be taken by society as a whole. What should the government do?

"Another vital aspect for the government is to become more transparent and open towards society. Enhancing the government's credibility can, in turn, bolster trust in democracy. This requires improving the skills of individual government employees. It's crucial to leverage digital tools to enable more effective communication."

"We must enhance our ability to explain politics and policies using the channels that people are using, not just text but increasingly videos as well. While we have already embarked on this, it is still insufficient. We must also learn from the approaches of other democratic nations."

Progress in international cooperation "offers hope"

The package of countermeasures against disinformation compiled by the Taiwanese government also addresses the importance of international cooperation.

"While I cannot delve into specifics, Taiwan already cooperates with several countries. We are sharing expertise in government employee training and public relations concerning policies, optimizing guidelines suited to Taiwan. The exchange of information through diplomatic channels is also crucial."

"Many people visit Taiwan, and we likewise visit other countries, learning from each other. International organizations are also paying attention to this issue. This trend offers hope in the fight against disinformation and information manipulation."

(The interview was conducted in Chinese and English through an interpreter. For readability, some expressions have been adjusted with consent.)


「腎臓学会が発表した紅麹健康被害の病名は新型コロナワクチンの副反応そのもの」は誤り 添付された読売記事は無関係で学会も否定【ファクトチェック】

「腎臓学会が発表した紅麹健康被害の病名は新型コロナワクチンの副反応そのもの」は誤り 添付された読売記事は無関係で学会も否定【ファクトチェック】

小林製薬の紅麹問題で、日本腎臓学会が発表した健康被害の主な症状が新型コロナワクチンの副反応と同一だと主張する言説が読売新聞の記事であるかのように拡散しましたが、誤りです。読売新聞のロゴを使い、実際の報道内容とは異なります。また、日本腎臓学会も否定しています。 検証対象 小林製薬の紅麹を含む健康食品を摂取した後に腎臓の病気などを発症した問題で、2024年4月2日、「腎臓学会は確実に主因は、コロナワクチンだと気づいているね」という投稿がX(旧Twitter)で拡散した。投稿には読売新聞のロゴと記事へのリンクとともに「腎臓学会が発表した紅麹健康被害の病名は、新型コロナワクチンの副反応そのものだった」という文言がある。 この投稿は2024年4月12日時点で26万件以上表示され、6000件以上のリポストを獲得している。 検証過程 添付された読売新聞のリンクは、2024年4月1日に日本腎臓学会が公表した「『紅麹コレステヘルプに関連した腎障害に関する研究』アンケート調査(中間報告)」についての記事だ。 「紅麹健康被害、病名は尿細管の『間質性腎炎』『壊死』など…新た

By 日本ファクトチェックセンター(JFC)
小林製薬社長が「『ワクチン被害のスケープゴートにされた』と発言」は誤り このような発言はしていない【ファクトチェック】

小林製薬社長が「『ワクチン被害のスケープゴートにされた』と発言」は誤り このような発言はしていない【ファクトチェック】

小林製薬の紅麹問題で記者会見した小林章浩社長が「『小林製薬はワクチン被害のスケープゴートにされた』と発言した」とする言説が拡散しましたが、誤りです。会見は動画で公開されていますが、そのような発言はありません。 検証対象 紅麹の成分を含む健康食品を摂取した人が腎臓の病気などを発症した問題で、2024年4月2日、小林製薬の小林社長が、「日本政府と厚労省は、ワクチン被害のスケープゴートとして、我が社を利用し、潰しにかかっています」と発言したとする投稿が拡散した。 この投稿は4月4日時点で、140万回以上の表示回数と1万件以上のリポストを獲得している。「エイプリルフール」というコメントの一方で「応援してます!」「素晴らしい」といった反応もある。賛意を示すコメントの多くはワクチンに批判的な人たちから出ている。 検証過程 検証対象のポストは、投稿の3分後に編集されている。編集後は、「※注意 最後までちゃんと読んでね!」という文字が加わった(下の画像の赤枠で囲まれた部分)。 文末には、「元記事のリンクに真実あり」や「毎年エイプリールフールに騙される」といったハッシ

By 日本ファクトチェックセンター(JFC)


✉️日本ファクトチェックセンター(JFC)がこの1週間に出した記事を中心に、その他のメディアも含めて、ファクトチェックや偽情報関連の情報をまとめました。同じ内容をニュースレターでも配信しています。登録はこちら。 2024年4月1-7日のファクトチェック週報です。能登半島地震の発生から3ヶ月、4月3日に台湾地震が起きましたが、過去の津波の映像や関係のない画像とともに様々な偽の情報が拡散しました。誤情報の拡散は、生物多様性の縮小、大気・水・土壌の汚染、気候変動と並んで地球規模の危機だという論考をオーストラリアの王立ビクトリア協会が出しました。 偽情報対策シンポを4月16日開催 YouTubeで配信 JFCは国際大学グローバルコミュニケーションセンター(GLOCOM)と協力し、日本における偽情報の現状と対策について調べる2万人規模の調査を実施しました。そこで得られた知見を紹介し、関係者で議論するシンポジウムを都内で4月16日に開催いたします。 GLOCOMの山口真一准教授による調査の解説や、メディア、ファクトチェック団体、研究者、公的機関、プラットフォームの枠を超え

By 宮本聖二, 古田大輔(Daisuke Furuta)


台湾での最大震度6の地震をめぐり、発生直後から偽情報が大量に拡散しています。建物倒壊や津波などの過去動画、「原因は人工地震」など、大きな地震のたびに拡散します。 検証対象 2024年4月3日の台湾地震の直後から拡散した偽情報・誤情報をいくつか例示する。 1 ビルの倒壊映像? 4月3日、「ロシアのテレグラムでは『今回の地震は中国が救出作戦を開始し、島を再統一するチャンスである』と伝えた」という書き込みと共にビルが倒壊する映像が投稿され、表示数は98万件を超えた。 2 気象庁が「人工地震」とバラす? 4月4日、「人工地震は存在する事を気象庁がバラしちゃいました」という言説が拡散した。表示回数は119万件を超える。 3 沖縄からプライベートジェットで避難? 台湾地震の影響で、日本の沖縄本島から宮古島、八重山地方にも一時津波警報が発表された。警報発令を受けて、那覇空港の滑走路上の航空機の画像と共に「こんな時お偉いさん達はプライベートジェットで緊急避難か」という言説が投稿された。4月5日現在、この投稿は削除されている。 検証過程 ビルが倒壊する

By 日本ファクトチェックセンター(JFC)