Taiwan Disinformation Profile

From ADTAC Disinformation Inventory

Taiwan Media Environment:

Taiwan has a high internet penetration rate at 92.78% of the population.[1] 86% of Taiwanese people use the internet as a source of news with 56% using social media as a source of news.[2] The Varieties of Democracy Institute at the University of Gothenburg found that Latvia and Taiwan are the largest targets for online disinformation spread by foreign governments in the world.[3]

Taiwan has a competitive news environment and to survive in the digital market many media companies rely on sensationalist content and adopt stories from social media, with limited time dedicated to assessing whether stories are factual before broadcasting.[4]

Disinformation During 2016 and 2020 Presidential Elections

There has been intense scrutiny over online disinformation’s role in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. There is significant evidence that internet users in mainland China are spreading computational propaganda in Taiwan.[5][6] China has a significant number of nationalist citizens who spread pro-Chinese content and conduct misinformation campaigns even without government support so it is often difficult to tell if disinformation from China comes from state sponsored actors or private citizens.[7] Chinese disinformation appears to be decentralized as the CCP has many different information units utilizing different techniques.[8] The CCP supported the notion that "democracy is a failure".[9] The CCP supported the KMT candidate who lost to the DPP candidate Tsai Ing Wen.

Within Taiwan many political campaigns employ "cyber armies" to promote their candidates.[10] After the Taipei Mayoral race of 2014 it became increasingly common to use bots to gather data from public pages on Facebook.[11]

The Suicide of Diplomat Su Chii-Cherng

In late August 2018, as Typhoon Jebi hit Japan an anonymous complaint circulated around Facebook that Taiwan’s Diplomat in Osaka, Su Chii-Cherng, did not aid Taiwanese tourists who had to claim they were Chinese citizens to receive aid from China’s embassy.[12] The story was wholly false, but by the time it had been debunked Mr. Su had already committed suicide in Osaka presumably due to the firestorm of criticism he endured as a result of the story.[13][14]

  1. Dickey, L., Tatsumi, Y., Kennedy, P., & Li, J. (2019). Disinformation, Cybersecurity, & Energy Challenges. Washington D.C.: Stimson Center.
  2. Newman, N., Fletcher, R., Kalogeropoulos, A., Nielsen, R. K., & Levy, D. A. (2019). Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019. Reuters.
  3. Lührmann, A., Gastaldi, L., Grahn, S., Lindberg, S. L., Maxwell, L., Mechkova, V., . . . Pillai, S. (2019). Democracy Facing Global Challenges V-DEM Annual Democracy Report 2019. University of Gothenburg: V-Dem Institute.
  4. Newman, N., Fletcher, R., Kalogeropoulos, A., Nielsen, R. K., & Levy, D. A. (2019). Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019. Reuters.
  5. Monaco, N. J. (2017). Computational Propaganda in Taiwan: Where Digital Democracy Meets Automated Autocracy. Oxford: University of Oxford.
  6. https://medium.com/doublethinklab/deafening-whispers-f9b1d773f6cd
  7. https://medium.com/doublethinklab/deafening-whispers-f9b1d773f6cd
  8. https://medium.com/doublethinklab/deafening-whispers-f9b1d773f6cd
  9. https://medium.com/doublethinklab/deafening-whispers-f9b1d773f6cd
  10. https://blogs.oii.ox.ac.uk/politicalbots/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2017/06/Comprop-Taiwan-2.pdf
  11. https://blogs.oii.ox.ac.uk/politicalbots/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2017/06/Comprop-Taiwan-2.pdf
  12. Aspinwall, N. (2020, 01 10). Taiwan’s War on Fake News Is Hitting the Wrong Targets. Foreign Policy.
  13. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-taiwan/taiwan-representative-in-japans-osaka-commits-suicide-idUSKCN1LV067
  14. https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3828724