2024 Presidential Election: Combating Disinformation with Fact-Checks, Media Collaboration, and Public Empowerment

2024 Presidential Election: Combating Disinformation with Fact-Checks, Media Collaboration, and Public Empowerment

By Riley Chou

Taiwan's presidential election will be held on January 13, 2023—only 19 days away. Since the beginning of the election campaign, the TFC has been actively working to ensure the accuracy and truthfulness of information related to this election.

For the first time, TFC has launched the "Presidential Election Public Issues Verification Section" on its website. In addition to its original function of verifying common misinformation, it offers three new functions: verifying the public statements of the presidential candidates, organizing the major policies proposed by the candidates, and monitoring public issues.

New fact-checks format

Unlike typical fact-checks, the results for the statements and proposed policies of the presidential candidates, which cover public issues such as social housing, energy, and military defense, avoid simple categorizations of right or wrong. Instead, they are accompanied by easily understandable explanations.

The fact-check reports in this section are regularly updated. TFC actively fosters a culture where candidates are encouraged to acknowledge inaccuracies in their statements and make necessary corrections. When such corrections occur, TFC promptly updates the fact-checks. TFC’s approach to fact-checking presidential candidates' statements is strictly based on factual evidence, avoiding assessments of performance or value judgments in their statements.

Presidential candidates (listed by ballot number):

1. Ko Wen-je and Cynthia Wu (Taiwan People's Party)

2. Lai Ching-te and Hsiao Bi-khim (Democratic Progressive Party)

3. Hou Yu-ih and Chao Shao-kang of the (Kuomintang Party)

From left to right, the presidential candidates are Hou Yu-ih, Lai Ching-te, and Ko Wen-je.

Tea talk with over 20 media outlets calls for collaboration

Earlier on September 22, TFC hosted a tea talk with senior managers from over 20 media outlets, including television, video streaming platforms, newspapers, magazines, and radio. The goal was for TFC to actively work with these media outlets to protect Taiwan's society and democracy from the damage caused by misinformation.

Later, on October 12th and 13th, TFC held an “In-depth Verification Training Workshop” with the participation of professional media workers, communication scholars, and verification journalists. The first day's topic covered the latest international verification skills, while the second day focused on misinformation types and access, including artificial intelligence and the PTT bulletin board system.

TFC hosted a tea talk to share the latest resource tools with senior managers from over 20 media outlets.

TFC's Editor-in-Chief, Summer Chen, pointed out recent misinformation incidents, such as the "fake audio clip of the Taiwanese presidential candidate Ko Wen-je," the "fake audio clip of former Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang," and the "AI-generated image of a Pentagon explosion causing a decline in the U.S. stock market." These incidents highlighted the growing trend of using AI technology for deceptive content.

To effectively counter this surge of AI-generated misinformation, journalists, as guardians of the truth, must engage in technical learning, forge connections with experts, and equip themselves with the necessary tools. TFC collaborates with the National Institute of Cyber Security (NICS) and the Institute for Information Industry (III), utilizing tools that are either AI-powered or designed to detect AI-generated content. 

Public Empowerment through AI Education and Information Access

With the advice of two professors, TFC has designed a small online challenge for the general public to learn how powerful AI can be in creating misinformation and, therefore, learn some tips on distinguishing the false from the true. 

In addition, TFC has published two articles in English that offer a brief overview of disinformation spread during Taiwan's 2020-2022 elections. By drawing insights from historical trends and comparing them with TFC's current observations, it aims to identify disinformation campaigns for the upcoming 2024 election.

The first article delves into crucial trends and types of disinformation in Taiwanese elections over the past three years. The second article takes a closer look at the narratives surrounding vote rigging, government policies, national defense, and skepticism of the United States.

Summary of disinformation narratives in the previous elections:

(1) In the category of vote rigging, disinformation attacked the integrity of voting procedures, made false claims about ballots and ballot boxes, questioned the vote-counting process, and disseminated false information about counterfeit votes.

(2) Regarding disinformation about government policies before the elections, information manipulators focused on policies related to gender, education, and social welfare.

(3) Disinformation aimed at inciting worries about the conflict with China or resentment toward the United States surged in 2022.

Lastly, with the presidential debate scheduled for December 30th, TFC is actively strategizing for real-time fact-checking.

The Percentage of Disinformation Issues in Taiwan's 2020-2022 Elections