Tackling disinformation is of paramount importance to Taiwan

Taiwan is faced with growing cyber insecurity as it accuses China of turning to deepfakes as its newest form of disinformation campaigns.

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Taiwan boasts one of the world’s most resilient information ecosystems. Yet, disinformation continues to plague both the Taiwanese government and the public. In recent years, with the help of allies like the US, Taiwan has built a cybersecurity fortress around its highly online society. Necessary legislative armour includes the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), the cybersecurity Management Act (CSMA), and the Taiwan Cybersecurity Resiliency Act, which the US passed, adding to Taiwan’s cybersecurity outfit. Yet, despite government efforts, Taiwan is named among those most targeted with disinformation

The island has labeled China the biggest perpetrator of misinformation campaigns and has reported its numerous episodes of inaccurate narratives and conspiracy theories, and are recently deepfakes involving the island.

In the run-up to the election scheduled in January, the newly reelected president, Tsai Ing-wen, who has also been the subject of deepfakes, proclaims that the island is prepared for the potential onslaught of disinformation. According to President Tsai, the mechanisms available to the Taiwanese people to combat disinformation are knowledge and tools to refute and report fake news. Taiwan also has a community of fact-checkers, which includes entities such as Fake News Cleaner, whose aim is to educate the public, Cofacts, and Doublethink fact-checking services, and AI detection companies like Reality Defender.

Why does it matter?

Despite the robust nature of Taiwan’s cybersecurity positioning, this ‘cognitive warfare’ presents a real threat to the island’s political and social stability. The existing mechanisms are no match for the problem at hand, and much like President Tsai now advocates, it perhaps requires a ‘whole-of-society’ approach.