[TFC Disinfo Detector] What do Taiwanese people think about misinformation challenges in Taiwan? - Findings from the 2023 Annual Misinformation Survey

[TFC Disinfo Detector] What do Taiwanese people think about misinformation challenges in Taiwan? - Findings from the 2023 Annual Misinformation Survey

Image: The cover of the 2023 Annual Misinformation Survey published by Taiwan FactCheck Center in May 2023. (TFC)

By Wei-Ping Li, Ph.D. 

Living in a society that has faced severe disinformation challenges and has a pivotal presidential election coming up in January 2024, most Taiwanese citizens have remained vigilant to the influence of false information, according to the 2023 Annual Misinformation Survey published by Taiwan FactCheck Center. 82.8% of respondents received misinformation in the previous year, and more than 90% believe the impact of false information on society is “serious” or “extremely serious.” When encountering dubious information, 60.5% of respondents say they would use fact-checking tools. In comparison to the previous year’s poll, more Taiwanese individuals have used fact-checking to verify information.

This is the second year that the Taiwan FactCheck Center surveyed Taiwanese audiences’ attitudes toward misinformation and measures to tackle the challenges. This survey was conducted from April 1 to April 17 by the research firm Ipsos using online questionnaires and telephone, which included 1,789 online respondents and 1,200 phone respondents. Three professors from National Taiwan University, Dr. Hung Chen-ling, Dr. Chang Yu-tzung, and Dr. Hsieh Ji-lung, analyzed the research results and wrote the final report.

🔍 Taiwanese’s general perception of misinformation

Compared with the 2022 survey, Taiwanese people have seen more misinformation in 2023. In 2022, 75% of respondents say they received misinformation in the past year, while in 2023, the percentage has soared to 82.8%. When asked about how often the respondents receive misinformation, 34.4% say they receive misinformation daily or frequently, while 58.8% respond with “occasionally.” These numbers are close to the results of last year. 

Data source:  2022 & 2023 Annual Misinformation Survey published by Taiwan FactCheck Center
Graph: Wei-Ping Li

Regarding the impact of misinformation, 91.1% of respondents believe the impact on society is “serious” or “extremely serious.” The figure is slightly lower than the result in 2022 when 93% of respondents answered “serious” or “extremely serious.” Nonetheless, the 2023 results still show that Taiwanese respondents are quite concerned about the influence of misinformation on society.

Data source:  2022 & 2023 Annual Misinformation Survey published by Taiwan FactCheck Center
Graph: Wei-Ping Li

As multiple studies have pointed out, one of the concerns caused by misinformation influence is the erosion of confidence in established institutions. This survey finds that 66.2% of the respondents say they lose confidence in media workers due to misinformation, with 62% saying they lose confidence in politicians and 54.7% indicating their confidence in the government’s governance capability has dwindled. 

As a majority of respondents have lost confidence in the media, a large portion of them also think media outlets are the primary sources of misinformation. 64% of respondents say media workers create misinformation every day or frequently. The findings of this survey highlight Taiwanese respondents’ deep dissatisfaction with the media. Given the widespread dissatisfaction, it is not surprising that many respondents believe the media should be responsible for preventing misinformation. Later in this analysis, we will discuss the findings regarding respondents’ perspectives on misinformation countermeasures and responsible parties. 

Notably, 58.5% of respondents are concerned that foreign entities produce misinformation daily or frequently, although the survey does not request respondents to specify “who” or “what” are the foreign entities.

🔍 Fact-checking as a measure of countering disinformation

With the rising awareness of misinformation, Taiwanese still tend to use interpersonal networks to verify questionable information. 71.9% of respondents say they check information with their family members or friends, and 65.2% consult experts’ opinions on the information. Still, 64.4% use books or other print materials, while 60.5% say they seek out fact-checking tools.

This phenomenon is particularly interesting when examining similar surveys conducted in other regions of the world. A survey of participants from seven countries, including the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Nigeria, India, and Japan, found that the most common methods for participants to verify information are finding clues in the information itself. For example, checking the sources and date of the post or using a search engine. In addition, fewer respondents in this multi-country survey selected “send it to a knowledgeable friend or family member to ask for their opinion” as their preferred method when they sought to determine the veracity of the information. This is in contrast to the Taiwanese preference for verifying information with family and friends. Nevertheless, both the multinational and TFC surveys find fewer people “search for the information on a fact-checking site” when trying to find the correct information. For future studies, it may be interesting to explore why audiences from various countries and cultural backgrounds choose different approaches to fact-check suspicious information.

According to this Taiwan FactCheck Center survey, 58.6% of respondents are aware of fact-checking organizations in Taiwan, such as the Taiwan FactCheck Center, MyGoPen, CoFacts, etc., and 50.5% indicate they have heard of the Taiwan FactCheck Center. Again, this is progress when compared to the results from 2022, where 54.8% of respondents claimed to be aware of fact-checking organizations, and 42.6% acknowledged knowing about the Taiwan FactCheck Center.

Data source:  2022 & 2023 Annual Misinformation Survey published by Taiwan FactCheck Center
Graph: Wei-Ping Li

Among those who have heard of these organizations, 37.1% of respondents occasionally use the organizations for verifying information, while 10.6% of respondents use the initiatives daily or frequently. Compared with the results of the 2022 survey, where 32.5% of the respondents said they occasionally used fact-checking organizations and 10% said they used them daily or frequently, there is an increase in using fact-checking to evaluate the accuracy of information. Among those who have heard about the Taiwan FactCheck Center, 82.2% of the respondents consider the Taiwan FactCheck Center as credible or very credible. The percentage is close to the results in the survey last year, where 83.8% of respondents who heard of the Taiwan FactCheck Center regarded the Center as credible or very credible.

🔍 Other measures to fight against misinformation

This survey also investigates audiences’ opinions about who should be responsible for reducing misinformation and what should be done. As mentioned earlier, most respondents said media outlets should be “very responsible for” combating misinformation. Meanwhile, respondents think government officials and creators or spreaders of misinformation should bear great responsibility for reducing misinformation. Interestingly, when respondents are asked who should be accountable for preventing disinformation, social media platforms trail behind the media, government officials, and misinformation creators or spreaders.

Data source:  2022 & 2023 Annual Misinformation Survey published by Taiwan FactCheck Center
Graph: Wei-Ping Li

However, when asked whether there should be legislation requiring social media platforms to adopt self-regulatory mechanisms to combat misinformation, more than 90% of respondents agree. The support of regulations is even more apparent when respondents are asked to weigh between the protection of free speech and the deterrence of misinformation. When respondents choose between the statements: “The government should restrict the spread of misinformation online even if freedom of speech could be limited” and “The government should protect freedom of speech even if misinformation could be spread,” 63% of respondents support restricting the spread of misinformation online, even though it may result in limitations on freedom of speech. Similarly, 68% of the respondents support social media platforms imposing restrictions on misinformation, even though freedom of speech could also be hampered.

The results, to some extent, resonate with a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in June 2023 in which more than half of Americans support restrictions on online false information. According to the Pew Research Center survey, 55% of respondents say the U.S. federal government should take action to restrict false information online, even though the restriction limits freedom of information. In the same survey, 65% are in favor of tech companies imposing restrictions on false information. The Pew research also finds that the percentage of supporting the U.S. federal government to restrict false information has risen from 39% in 2018 to 55% in 2023.

The TFC survey, however, shows some decline in the support for restrictions on misinformation if comparing the results of the 2023 and 2022 surveys. In 2022, 69.1% of the respondents supported the statement that “The government should restrict the spread of misinformation online even if freedom of speech could be limited,” but the number decreases to 63% in 2023. Similarly, the support for social media platforms to restrict misinformation drops from 72.7% in 2022 to 68% in 2023. Nevertheless, the figures still show that a majority of people want to see the government and platforms take action to address the problem of misinformation.

Considering the trends in Taiwan and the United States, where the proposals for regulations to limit the spread of misinformation remain contentious, it is interesting to see that more than half of people agree the government or social media should restrict false information online. According to the results of the surveys in Taiwan and the U.S., people do not rule out legislation as an option. However, society may require more robust and nuanced debates to figure out the balance between safeguarding free expression and mitigating the harm caused by false information.

To summarize, the survey provides an overview of Taiwanese audience’s perceptions of misinformation and their thoughts on countermeasures. Taiwanese people are generally more conscious of the existence of false information. They mostly blame the media and politicians for the issue. The good news is that more Taiwanese are aware of fact-checking organizations as a tool for information verification. According to the survey, fact-checking programs are also being used by more users. But in addition to fact-checking, a greater portion of Taiwanese still believe that platforms and the government should step up to curb false information.



Hung, C., Chang, Y., & Hsieh, J. (2023). 2023 annual misinformation survey. Taiwan FactCheck Center.

🔗Pew Research Center. (2023, July 20). In U.S., most favor restricting false information, violent content online.

🔗Poynter Institute for Media Studies. (2022). A global study on information literacy: Understanding generational behaviors and concerns around false and misleading information online.

🔗Sharwood, S. (2022, June 30). Taiwan creates new challenge for tech industry: stern content regulation laws. The Register.

🔗Wang, J. (2022, August 26). Taiwan is ground zero for Disinformation—Here’s how it’s fighting back. Wall Street Journal. 

🔗Wamsley, L. & Bond, S. (2023, July 5). U.S. is barred from combating disinformation on social media. Here’s what it means. NPR. 

Wei-Ping Li is a research fellow at Taiwan FactCheck Center. 

[1] This survey was originally conducted in Chinese language. The researchers of the survey used the term “假訊息” in Chinese characters [“fake information” or “fake news” if directly translated from Chinese characters]. In the English version of the executive summary, the researchers used the word “misinformation” instead of differentiating between disinformation [false information that is produced with the intention to cause harm] and misinformation [false information that is told or shared without the realization that the information is false or misleading]. This analysis follows the usage of the term adopted in the original report. For more detailed definitions of terms related to fake news/misinformation/disinformation, please see Wardle, C. (2021, August 3). Understanding information disorder. First Draft. https://firstdraftnews.org/long-form-article/understanding-information-d...