🔝 As the election approaches and the relevant discussions become more heated, the topic of disinformation has become the focus once again. This April, the transnational political science research project Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) released the latest annual database, which pointed out that the degree of attack to Taiwan by overseas actors in 2018 was “No. 1 in the world,” highlighting this this issue as one of our most imminent challenges.
✍️ How can we tackle such a complex issue? In December 2018, the Executive Yuan issued “A Special Report on the Preventing and Countering Disinformation,” committing to provide real-time clarifications on government-related issues. More importantly, the government encouraged major social media platforms to sign the “Self-Regulation and Best Practices for Disinformation Prevention and Control.”
🔢 For example, LINE launched a Digital Accountability Dashboard this year. In collaboration with four organizations, among which was the g0v grant winner — the “Cofacts” project — LINE they set up an official account to allow the public to report disinformation, which are sent to collaborating organization will provide clarified information. At present, more than 140,000 rumors have reported there, and the total number of unique messages has exceeded 30,000.
🤹 At the same time, the civil society volunteered themselves into the mission of preventing the harm of disinformation. In May 2019, the 2020 President Candidate Fact Checking Project was born in Hackathon run by the civic tech community “g0v” (gov-zero) in Taipei.
🧩 This large-scale planning, which involves news media, web platforms, and civilian communities, originates from the Internet platform Readr. The team founder H.C. Chien, also a long-time participant in the public community, got this idea when he took part in the Hackathon, “The more media are willing to collaborate, the more likely it will be to complete the whole collage.” Then, he began to reach out across various communities in the Hackathon, which led to the involvement of many media platforms and citizen communities, such as the PTS “P# News Lab” and “Watchout”.
🚧 There are several steps in this plan: first, find out a candidate’s public speech video, allow the netizens to transcribe it verbatim, which will then be verified, sorted, and then submitted to the news media to verify the content. At present, 14 media and cooperative units and nearly 1,000 netizens have joined the team of verbatim transcribing and fact checking. The verification is currently in full swing.
🗽 Many people are worried that disinformation will mislead the public and change the results of the election. In my opinion, the greatest harm of disinformation lies in ruining people’s understanding of democracy, leading us to feel that democracy makes it impossible for us to listen to each other, letting alone achieving consensus. No matter whether it is the “LINE Information Verification,” or the “2020 President Candidate Fact Checking Plan,” they embody the social spirit of “everyone’s matter, everyone helps,” deepening our democracy through civic participation.