Tue, Apr 09, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Fake news petition receives support

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

The logo of a petition organized by a coalition of 100 student groups called “Youth front for the boycott of fake news” is pictured in an undated photograph.

Photo: Screen grab from Facebook

An online petition launched on Sunday by students to boycott false news reports and call for stricter measures against Chinese-

sponsored media campaigns has collected more than 8,000 signatures within 24 hours of its launch.

The petition was organized by a coalition of 100 student groups from high schools and universities nationwide, led by the student associations of National Taiwan University (NTU) and National Chengchi University (NCCU), as well as the NCCU Wild Fire student group.

“Student associations and youth groups have formed the coalition to boycott ‘fake news’ on Freedom of Expression Day, because we are seeing biased and untrue news being reported by media outlets that claim to celebrate freedom of speech and of the press,” the coalition said in a statement on Sunday.

By publishing false news reports and promoting certain politicians as “god-like,” the media outlets are failing in their role as the fourth estate and “destroying Taiwan’s democracy,” it said.

It gave as an example a report broadcast by CtiTV News on Feb. 18 in which a popular commentator on religious issues said that an “auspicious cloud” appeared in the sky when Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) joined Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) at a campaign rally in Tainan.

The coalition urged the public to join the students in boycotting news outlets that report biased and unverified information, and called for more government measures against Chinese media campaigns.

Research has found that the Chinese government is consistently trying to impose censorship on Taiwanese media outlets by offering as incentives access to the Chinese market or investments, it said.

The finding, coupled with reports of China-based entities buying Taiwanese-owned Facebook pages to influence public opinion, are alarming, it added.

The statement was supported by dozens of academics and politicians, including Academia Sinica associate research fellow Wu Rwei-ren (吳叡人), NTU history professor Chou Wan-yao (周婉窈) and New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌).

The coalition would soon plan a series of talks on media manipulation, and work with more student groups to boycott certain news outlets at restaurants and cafes on and near campuses, the coalition said on Facebook.

The petition followed a series of calls by students at NTU and NCCU since last month to boycott CtiTV News over what they called “biased news coverage.”

An NTU student on March 22 launched an initiative to ban broadcasts of CtiTV News at all student cafeterias on campus. It garnered the support of more than 4,000 people in four days.

In the following week, a number of NCCU students began urging others to “take back the TV remote control” at school cafeterias to prevent non-students from switching the channel to CtiTV News.

CtiTV News was on March 27 fined a total of NT$1 million (US$32,420) by the National Communications Commission for failing to adhere to the fact-verification mechanism stipulated in the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法), while its report on the “auspicious cloud” was listed as one of the instances where it breached the act.

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