DEMOCRACY PROBLEMS: Taiwan is not alone in dealing with disinformation in an election year, as the US is also facing an uptick in misinformation, AI Labs’ founder said
By Jake Chung / Staff writer, with CNA
January 4, 2024
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lo Chih-cheng, center, poses for a photograph at a campaign event in New Taipei City on Tuesday.
Photo: Lai Hsiao-tung, Taipei Times
Taiwan AI Labs yesterday reported a surge in online misinformation over the past few days targeting political issues ahead of next week’s legislative and presidential elections.
The research organization said it observed several groups working in tandem to undermine public trust in the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), with accounts on Facebook manipulating news regarding the stabbing to death of a New Taipei City junior-high student to support the death penalty.
A ninth-grade male student reportedly stabbed a classmate in the neck and chest on Monday last week, after a female student complained to the suspect about the way the other student had spoken to her.
Taiwan AI Labs also reported a spike in groups collaborating on TikTok seemingly to drum up support for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
It discovered accounts targeting uploads critical of the KMT on the short-form video-sharing service, flooding them with messages aimed at distracting viewers from the issues brought up in the original posts, it said.
Many of the accounts spreading disinformation were following orders from a “commander” account, Taiwan AI Labs founder Ethan Tu (杜奕瑾) said.
Using artificial intelligence technology, it found which accounts were owned by public relations firms and were generating content using software, Tu said.
Taiwan AI Labs also identified what issues the accounts were interested in manipulating, he said.
Most democratic countries are unable to defend against the mass dissemination of misinformation on social media, he said.
Taiwan is not the only country being targeted by online disinformation campaigns, as the US, which is also preparing for a presidential election in November, has also faced an uptick of disinformation directed at US President Joe Biden, he said.
Tu said he hoped to establish a countermeasure against such efforts in Taiwan.
In related news, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said he was a victim of a deepfake video being circulated online that featured his likeness in a sex act.
Lo said he had reported the incident to the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau on Tuesday night, and vowed to take action against those responsible.
He said the video was created as part of a campaign by China to influence the elections.
DPP presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said that Lo was “a victim,” and that China would “stop at nothing” to influence the elections.