To protest the Ministry of the Interior’s handling of fabricated stories about mistreatment of Filipinos which were spread online, a number of netizens have joined National Chengchi University (NCCU) law professor Mark Liu (劉宏恩) in intentionally posting unfounded rumors on their Facebook pages, challenging police to charge them with violation of the Social Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法).
“I also posted a story, I urge the police to investigate me as soon as possible,” Liu said in a Facebook post accompanying a story that he made up about an official being refused service at a restaurant.
Liu reused a story posted by a woman surnamed Tung (董) about how she encountered a boxed-meal shop owner saying that he would not sell food to Filipino workers.
As part of the story, Tung said she told the shop owner what he was doing was wrong and bought lunch for the Filipino who had waited outside the shop for over an hour without being served.
Liu used the same story, except he changed the Filipino worker in the story to a government official, and posted it on Facebook.
“There is no need to search for my identity, my name is Mark Liu and I am an associate professor at NCCU’s law school,” Liu said.
“So, Minister of the Interior [Lee Hong-yuan, 李鴻源] who ordered the police to find out who posted the lunchbox story as soon as possible so as to press charges against the author, I would welcome the police investigating me,” he wrote.
Liu said in the post that while it may be morally questionable to post a fabricated story that does not harm anyone on Facebook, “it’s different from breaking the law.”
“It’s regrettable that the media and many netizens don’t know the difference between a legal responsibility and a moral responsibility, but when the interior minister and the police don’t know the difference, it’s a disaster for the rule of law and bad news for human rights,” he added.
Liu said he could not agree with the idea that people who posted fabricated stories are in violation of the Social Order Maintenance Act by spreading rumors which “disturb public peace.”
“I only see them making many netizens very unhappy. Or does making netizens unhappy equal disturbing public peace?” he asked.
A number of Internet users supported Liu’s view, with many of them also posting fabricated stories on their Facebook pages and inviting the police to investigate them.