Taipei slams donation to HK canard posed by Facebook user

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Taiwan Presidential Office said today that a rumor circulating on social media about the Taiwan government donating NT$1 billion (US$32 million) to support the recent massive street protests in Hong Kong was "totally fake."
The office has asked the police to investigate the fake information, which has been making the rounds on social media since Tuesday, spokesperson Ting Yun-kung said, CNA reports.
Ting said the allegation first appeared on a Facebook account that was also responsible for spreading false rumors in 2018 to influence Taiwan's local government elections, in which the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered a crushing defeat.
Such allegations could pose a threat to national security and the development of democracy in Taiwan and may impact the 2020 presidential election, Ting said, while accompanying President Tsai Ing-wen on a visit to Chih Nan Temple in Taipei's Wenshan District.
According to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), it received a report from the Presidential Office Wednesday that a Facebook user named Li Chieh  was spreading false information about the Tsai administration.
In a post on Tuesday, Li wrote that while Tsai's administration had not spent a dollar on dengue fever prevention in Kaohsiung City, it had donated NT$1 billion in support of the "violent" protests in Hong Kong, the CIB said.
The bureau told CNA that Li's IP address was in Singapore, as was that of another Facebook user called Li Jung-kuei, who had been spreading false rumors in the run up to Taiwan's local government elections last year.
In one of his posts last year, Li Jung-kuei said the DPP mayoral candidate in Kaohsiung Chen Chi-mai and his father had NT$2.2 billion worth of overseas assets, according to the CIB.
Chen later lost the election to Han Kuo-yu of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).
The CIB said it is very likely that the two Lis are the same person, as their IP addresses are both in Singapore, they use the same profile photo on Facebook, and their modus operandi in spreading false rumors is similar.
The bureau said it had investigated 171 cases of fake news between June and Nov. 24 last year, and 20 cases from January to May this year.
With the approach of the presidential and legislative elections on January 11 next year, it is likely that the incidence of fake news will increase, the CIB said.
To prevent interference in its elections, Taiwan has set up a 54-member task force to identify the source of fake news and try to prevent its spread, the CIB said.
The bureau said it is also working with Google and Facebook to combat fake news.