U.S., Taiwan in search of technology to fight disinformation

02/19/2020 03:43 PM
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Raymond Greene, deputy director of the American Institute in Taiwan
Raymond Greene, deputy director of the American Institute in Taiwan

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) The U.S.-Taiwan Tech Challenge: Countering Disinformation and Propaganda, a two-day event, opened Wednesday as part of efforts between Taiwan and the United States in search of innovative technologies to combat disinformation.

Co-organized by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the U.S. Department of State's Global Engagement Center, the event is aimed at advancing the development of technologies that offer solutions to help expose, understand, or counter misinformation and disinformation, according to the AIT.

AIT Deputy Director Raymond Greene and Patricia Watts, director of the Technology Engagement Team under the State Department, attended the opening ceremony at the Taipei International Convention Center.

"We are confident that the assembled technologists, experts and others at this Tech Challenge will be able to develop cutting-edge solutions to the challenges posed by disinformation," Greene said.

Countering disinformation is one of the most complex challenges facing democratic societies around the world, he added.

Greene said Taiwan is on the front line of the disinformation battlefield, in which China has invested heavily to develop sophisticated ways to anonymously disseminate disinformation through various channels, including social media.

"The U.S. and Taiwan are capable and complementary partners in confronting the challenge of disinformation," Greene said, suggesting that the U.S. can learn from Taiwan's approach, which combines school curriculum reform, tech development, academic research and refined fact-checking methods.

In the 2018 local elections and the 2020 presidential election in Taiwan, it was noticed that fake news and disinformation aimed at influencing election results spread rampantly via social media, with the sources of the fake news mostly traced to China.

Although the elections are over, disinformation continues in Taiwan, with its focus shifted to the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.

Keynote speaker Audrey Tang (唐鳳), Taiwan's minister without portfolio responsible for digital technology, shared Taiwan's playbook for countering disinformation, which involves a timely response and collaborative fact-checking, as well as requiring transparency in campaign expenditures and donations during election periods to determine the source of such funds.

On day one of the event, seven tech companies -- five from Taiwan and one each from Australia and Israel -- will demonstrate technology they have developed to address disinformation to a panel of judges, vying for funding totaling US$250,000.

On day two, four interactive panel sessions on the development and implementation of technology for countering disinformation will be held.

The panelists will include representatives from Facebook, Microsoft, Google and various other companies.

(By Emerson Lim)

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