The “US-Taiwan Tech Challenge: Countering Disinformation and Propaganda,” opened yesterday in Taipei as part of efforts by the two nations to develop innovative technologies to curtail the spread of disinformation.
Co-organized by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the US Department of State’s Global Engagement Center, the two-day event aims to advance the development of technologies that offer solutions to help expose, understand or counter misinformation and disinformation, the AIT said.
AIT Deputy Director Raymond Greene and Patricia Watts, who is also the director of the department’s Technology Engagement Team, attended the opening ceremony at the Taipei International Convention Center.
“We are confident that the assembled technologists, experts and others at this tech challenge will be able to develop cutting-edge solutions to the challenges posed by disinformation,” Greene said.
Countering disinformation is one of the most complex challenges facing democratic societies around the world, he said.
Taiwan is on the front line in the fight against disinformation, in which China has invested heavily to develop sophisticated ways to anonymously disseminate disinformation through various channels, including social media, he added.
“The US and Taiwan are capable and complementary partners in confronting the challenge of disinformation,” Greene said, adding that the US could learn from Taiwan’s approach, which combines school curriculum reform, technology development, academic research and refined fact-checking methods.
Fabricated news reports and disinformation aimed at influencing election results spread over social media before the elections in 2018 and last month, and most of them were found to have originated from China.
Disinformation about an outbreak of COVID-19 has also spread on Taiwan’s social media.
Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳), who is responsible for digital technology, in her keynote speech shared Taiwan’s playbook for countering disinformation, which involves timely response and collaborative fact-checking.
It also requires transparency in campaign expenditures and donations during elections to determine funding sources, she said.
Seven technology companies — five Taiwanese and one each from Australia and Israel — demonstrated the technologies they have developed to address disinformation to a panel of judges on the event’s first day, as they competed for funding totaling US$250,000.
Four interactive panel sessions on the development and implementation of technology to counter disinformation are to be held today.
The panelists are to include representatives from Facebook, Microsoft and Google.
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