Concerted effort in Taiwan to fight fake news as polls loom

Taipei raises penalties for spread of misinformation as civil groups act to help voters fact-check political messages

The Straits Times
Date: Jan 5, 2020
By: Katherine Wei

People at an event organised by Taiwanese NGO Fake News Cleaner on how to spot and report fake news, in New Taipei City last month. PHOTO: REUTERS

With a presidential election just a week away, Taiwan's government, the local media, researchers and hackers are stepping up efforts to quash a deluge of fake news – much of which is believed to be coming from China.

On New Year's Eve, Taiwan's legislature passed a number of amendments to the Criminal Code to regulate the spreading of misinformation, raising the penalty from about two years behind bars and a fine of NT$1,000 (S$45) to up to NT$200,000 in fines and the same prison time. The punishment is heavier if the misinformation is spread online or via television, radio or other media.

The problem of fake news is considered especially acute in the island. Along with Latvia, Taiwan was ranked as the place most affected by foreign online disinformation campaigns in the world in 2019 by the V-Dem Institute, a data analysis centre hosted at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden's Department of Political Science.    [FULL  STORY]

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