Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Sunday urged the public not to spread fake news and misinformation, some of which she said has originated from China and is aimed at creating division in society.
"I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to everyone. When you read a message from instant messaging app Line or on Facebook that seems to you surreal or false, do not disseminate it. Instead, you should point out that it is fake news," Tsai said.
Tsai made the remarks when she addressed supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidates for November's local elections at a campaign rally in Tainan.
In a separate rally in Kaohsiung, Tsai said she hoped that the government would be able to clarify misinformation in a timely manner to prevent the possibility of misinformation being used by certain people and groups to sway the elections.
Tsai urged the public to do three things when spotting disinformation purported to be news -- check its authenticity, do not spread it, and clarify the misinformation.
The phenomenon of fake news has become a big problem in democratic Taiwan where freedom of expression is respected, she said, accusing China of taking advantage of Taiwan's openness to spread fake news to disrupt local society, she said.
Tsai, however, did not give specific examples.
The most recent case of fake news identified by the DPP as originating from China was reports that China had deployed tour buses to evacuate Chinese nationals from Kansai International Airport in Japan after Typhoon Jebi led to its closure on Sept. 4.
At that time, Taiwan's office in Osaka was under considerable criticism for failing to respond to requests made by Taiwanese travelers stranded at the airport, including taking no similar action as China reportedly did for its nationals.
Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), head of Taiwan's office in Osaka, committed suicide Sept. 14. Japanese police said that a note left by Su suggested that he was agonized by overwhelming criticism over his office's handling of the stranded Taiwanese travelers.