Taipei, Taiwan – Rinse your mouth with hot water for 30 minutes and swallow it to make your stomach acid kill COVID-19. Regular hot baths can also prevent you from contracting the virus.
These are just some suggestions given in a report Seven-minute audio clip Last week, a woman who claimed to be a member of the Taiwanese Legislative Council circulated on the social messaging app LINE.
It is accompanied by a note in Traditional Chinese: “Very important! Listen to the whole process! It is Cai Piru’s share (data). I have listened to it twice for your reference.”
The audio clips and suggestions proved to be fake, and Cai, a trained nurse who volunteered in the hospital during the pandemic, has acted quickly to debunk them. But since the island nation of Taiwan, such posts have sprung up on Taiwan’s social media. The worst outbreak to date COVID-19 started earlier this month.
“From May 12 (the day after Taiwan’s announcement of community spread), there have been a lot of false information trying to cause panic in Taiwan,” said Puma Shen, the head of DoubleThink Labs, a Taipei non-governmental organization. Track false information and digital surveillance.
He said that in the past month, false propaganda activities have taken different forms.
First, they appear on Twitter accounts, and then appear in personal and group chats on YouTube and LINE. Since then, voice messages claiming to be from members of Taiwan’s elite began to appear.
In recent days, fake posts from news sites such as the left-leaning Liberty Times and the pro-democracy Hong Kong publication Apple Daily have also been posted on Facebook pages targeting animal lovers and supporters of President Tsai Ing-wen, claiming that she and Shen said other political elites Secretly infected with COVID-19.
The fake news was also accompanied by Shen’s so-called “propaganda” posts, including China’s offer to sell its COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan, which has been struggling to obtain enough vaccines for its 23 million population over the past year-although domestic vaccines will Launched this summer.
Spread discord and panic
Although false propaganda activities are nothing new in Taiwan, Often the target of China’s well-functioning propaganda machine and its local supporters, The recent COVID-19 campaign has serious health effects.
Last weekend, Vice Minister of the Interior Chen Zongren stated that posts about the president’s health are “very despicable fake news” and are equivalent to a “cognitive war” against Taiwanese.
Robin Lee, project manager of Taiwan’s independent fact-checking website MyGoPen, said: “Compared with last year, this year’s misinformation is more serious and serious, and it is also one of the reasons for public panic.” The Taiwanese pronunciation of “Don’t Lie”.
Taiwanese society has been particularly vulnerable to fake news in the past month because it is struggling to cope with the first nationwide partial blockade after a year and a half after successfully controlling the virus.
Although the number of cases per day is between 200 and 300—lower compared to neighboring countries such as Japan—this outbreak is by far the most serious, and in some respects has caused a huge loss of morale.
Last year, Taiwan had no local coronavirus cases for more than 250 consecutive days. Until the end of April, the total number of local cases hovered at about 1,200 due to the active contact tracing program and the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers.
However, the recent outbreak is related to Air China and China Airlines pilots-they must accept a shorter quarantine period-and has caused the government to shut down schools across the island for the first time since early 2020 and calls on residents to work at home as much as possible.
Fake news island
With the rise of rapid testing stations across Taiwan and the resurgence of panic buying, instant noodles in many grocery stores have been temporarily emptied, and fake news has also made a comeback. But this time, many posts and news appear more credible.
In the past, fake news and propaganda posts from China were easy to spot: Simplified Chinese (used in the mainland) occasionally appeared or contained words that Taiwanese would find strange. But this time, the new post cache seems more credible.
A new wave of audio messages funded by Chinese government agencies is becoming popular. According to a 2020 report by the US cybersecurity company Recorded Future, local Taiwanese now pay between US$730 and US$1,460 per month to make social media posts — close to the island’s average monthly salary — to write and dub these scripts.
As Facebook cracked down on misinformation and fake news, viral messages have migrated to LINE, YouTube, Instagram, and the Taiwanese version of Reddit’s PTT. Recent posts mainly focus on COVID-19, but also involve Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election and Cai, who was running for the second president at the time.
According to the US-based Strategic and International Research Center, most, but not all, of this work is related to the Chinese United Front Work Department, the Communist Youth League, and the independent cyber squad.
CSIS said that some of them were also produced domestically by Taiwanese. They may support a closer relationship with China. China claims the island is its own island, or it just doesn’t like the Tsai Ing-wen government.
Shen of DoubleThink Labs said, especially video, can be traced back to content farms run by Chinese Malaysians.
MyGoPen and the Taiwan Fact Checking Center are just two organizations working locally, aiming to eliminate false propaganda activities, expose fake news on their websites, and then share information through social media accounts.
The Center for Disease Control broadcasts its daily afternoon press conferences on multiple platforms to inform Taiwanese of the latest statistics and health agreements, but it also relies on humor and memes to deal with false information.
A successful campaign featured Zongchai, the Shiba Inu mascot of the Centers for Disease Control. Zongchai often appears in CDC’s information about recent case data and practical advice, such as the correct length of social distance: the length of three Shiba Inu side by side.
Although the information is rich, the information well reflects the Taiwanese’s appreciation of cute memes. Even Taiwan’s dictator Chiang Kai-shek received cartoon treatment in his former party KMT’s LINE post.
Zong Chai, the mascot of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, often announces changes to Taiwan’s travel restrictions as part of its “2-2-2” response to false information: 200 words and two priority “humor” in 20 minutes The picture responds. rumor”.
#卫福编报报 ⏲Posting time: 2021.5.24
❗Internet transmission of “suspected mass burning of Wanhua pneumonia remains” Command Center: People with intentions fake media webpages to spread false information ❗https://t.co/x41SBDNMyG pic.twitter.com/eDgODga5FV
— Taiwan MOHW (@MOHW_Taiwan) May 24, 2021
(Translation: posted on 24/5/2021. “Suspected Wanhua Pneumonia Mass Burning of Corpses”. False information spread on the website]
Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang told the French Strategic Research Foundation in April last year that this so-called “memetic project” aims to “package information in an interesting way, you just need to share it”.
However, for every cute Shiba Inu post, CDC will publish it in large numbers, and another piece of false information will appear.
Earlier this week, MyGoPen debunked a rumor that the United States has so many additional vaccine doses that they have begun to vaccinate cats and dogs. Another source said that despite scientific data reports, the effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is only 29.5% More than 90% effective For original viruses and emerging variants
One thing is certain: as Taiwan struggles to contain this latest wave of infections, it will redouble its efforts to eliminate false memes.