Mon, Dec 10, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Rules targeting fake news need to narrow focus

FOREIGN INFLUENCERS:Only information that is coming from abroad and affects national security should be regulated by authorities, a professor said

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Government regulations to cover fake news or misinformation should focus on disinformation from abroad that could potentially threaten national security, a media expert said yesterday.

The Executive Yuan has said it would amend a draft digital communications act that would require social media companies to review user reports of misinformation and remove such items or risk potential criminal charges.

Not all misinformation needs to be regulated by public authorities; only when there is sufficient evidence that such material is coming from abroad and would affect national security, said Weber Lai (賴祥蔚), a professor in the radio and television department at the National Taiwan University of Arts’ College of Communications.

Other types of misinformation should be dealt with via legal means, he said.

True information should be allowed to win in the free-speech market, and the government can provide accurate information and allow the audience to judge for themselves, he said.

It is possible that the proposed amendments would lead social media platforms to remove everything that has been reported as false, which would restrict free speech, Lai added.

Taiwan Asian Network for Free Elections chairman Hung Yao-nan (洪耀南) said that all democratic nations are facing the challenge of preventing the spread of misinformation.

Facebook, YouTube and other platforms should do their part when it comes to preventing the spread of false information, whether by disclosing more information, such as users’ IP addresses, regulating messages generated by robots or via other means, Hung said.

Oath Taiwan managing director Erika Wang (王興) said that her company works with the Taiwan FactCheck Center, and its editorial team monitors users’ responses and comments and uses them as a reference for making judgements about whether an item might be fake news.

Yahoo Taiwan’s news site gathers more than 2,200 news articles from more than 200 media partners every day, she said.

Oath chief executive Guru Gowrappan has said the company would not allow fake news to spread on its platform.

A source at a national security agency on Oct. 18 said that the agency had evidence that a Chinese government agency had been tasked with disseminating disinformation in Taiwan,.

The Taiwanese agency had identified the issue as a national security concern, the source said.

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