Other students post their own news on their own Facebook pages.
One posted his answers after being interviewed by CtiTV (中天), an outlet he perceives as pro-China, Liao said.
“After he was interviewed, he already knew how the report would go, so he posted the content on his Facebook … and sure enough, the reporter took words out of context, so that the student said, ‘I don’t know [about the pact],’ when he had meant something like, ‘I don’t know about what it’s like at the protest scene right now.’
“Any time there is a conflict with media, we use it as a way to respond,” Liao said.
A BOON AND A BANE
Facebook, PTT, live streams on Youtube and other technologies have a democratizing effect, putting information within grasp and offering a platform for diverse and often marginalized demographics.
“You can hear lots of voices, not just voices you like,” said Qelen Zingla, a student protester from Taitung County who arrived in Taipei for the mass rally on Sunday.
But social media and other fixtures of Web 2.0 are not without problems. Though Facebook is a platform for diverse opinions, it commonly becomes a way to shore up preexisting beliefs, since what a user “Likes” shapes the material that appears on the news feed.
Meanwhile, Internet arguments have a notorious potential for escalating quickly. On a page that has since been removed on PTT, nasty ripostes flew when some villagers said they would harass student leader Lin Fei-fan’s (林飛帆) family in Greater Tainan and other villagers defended Lin and threatened to retaliate.
Yet, problems and all, the online world is where the young protesters are dwelling and connecting. Caveats aside, the information in this world is what students prefer and tend to trust.
“Traditional media, a lot of them are being controlled. Every business interest has a political angle, so no matter what you read, it has been filtered,” Liao said.
At the rally on Sunday, National Central University (中央大學) student Tim Liao (廖, full name withdrawn) agreed. Liao, 22, is both a villager and Facebook user.
“In this movement, I think PTT provides firsthand information. Facebook is where PTT material and other articles are shared, and it’s secondhand. Traditional journalism is often based on those, so it is thirdhand,” he said.