Thu, Dec 20, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Fake election news ‘abundant’

WEB OF LIES:Of the 166 complaints regarding fake election news, 138 were deemed to be illegal and 11 had a substantial impact on fair campaigning, investigators said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Criminal Investigation Bureau Deputy Commissioner Lin Yen-tien, right, and other officials report at the Ministry of the Interior in Taipei yesterday on measures being taken against people who spread false information online.

Photo: Chen Yu-fu, Taipei Times

As of Monday, 138 cases of deliberate dissemination of false information concerning last month’s elections had been discovered, the Criminal Investigation Bureau said yesterday, adding that disinformation was abundant in the lead-up to Nov. 24.

So far, 174 people have been referred for prosecution, bureau Deputy Commissioner Lin Yen-tien (林炎田) told a news conference at the Ministry of the Interior in Taipei.

Before the election, the bureau had established a special task force to combat disinformation, Lin said.

It sent notifications to local police units to boost monitoring of the media, as well as online communities and news sites, Lin said, adding that it also sent requests to social media and Internet search providers such as Facebook and Google to assist in finding the sources of fake news for judicial investigations.

The bureau listed 166 fake news complaints that included evidence, of which 138 were deemed to have contravened laws banning the deliberate spreading of false information or unsubstantiated rumors.

“These resulted in 174 indictments, while 28 cases are still under investigation,” Lin said.

The task force is focusing on 11 major cases that are deemed to have had an effect on fair election campaigning, the bureau said, adding that prosecutors have filed indictments in six of the cases, while the other five are still under investigation.

In one case, a user on Professional Technology Temple, the nation’s largest online academic bulletin board system, posted messages threatening bodily harm to a Kaohsiung mayoral candidate, bureau officials said.

Investigators traced the user’s IP location to a 47-year-old man in Taipei, who was then arrested and taken to the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office for questioning, they added.

In another case, a wanted advertisement allegedly posted by a Taipei mayoral candidate’s campaign office circulated on Facebook and Line groups just before the election, seeking temporary staff to distribute pamphlets and work at campaign rallies, Lin said.

Investigators deemed the ad to be fabricated in an attempt to smear the candidate, as the candidate’s office had not posted such an ad, Lin said, adding that Taipei police detained two suspects on suspicion of circulating the messages and charged them for contravening the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法).

As for vote-buying, police and prosecutors nationwide have filed charges in 1,275 cases, leading to 6,983 indictments, Lin said.

“As of Monday, 202 people had been detained after approval from district court judges, who determined there was solid evidence of illegal vote-buying activity,” Lin added. “Of those detained, 69 were candidates.”

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