Necessary act for Facebook likes

The National Communications Commission (NCC) on June 29 proposed a Digital Services Intermediary Bill, which would establish special provisions for platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and DCard. Although this decision has been criticized by opposition parties as restricting freedom of expression, in reality this is not the case.

The bill is largely based on the EU’s Digital Services Act, with the aim of protecting users’ rights and requiring tech platforms to implement a self-regulatory mechanism and improve transparency .

Whether during election and campaign periods, or since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of fake news on the internet, sowing confusion and panic. Most of the fake news is obviously part of the cognitive warfare waged by China’s cyberarmies, aimed at disrupting Taiwan’s elections or interfering with its control of the pandemic.

This bill is therefore necessary.

Facebook’s unreasonable censorship should also be targeted by the bill. The media said that even though Chinese citizens are legally prohibited from using Facebook, the Chinese are responsible for censoring Taiwanese posts.

The reach of language that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dislikes — such as posts mentioning Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement or supporting Hong Kong — is often reduced, resulting in particularly low visibility.

Words that the CCP does not like, such as “武漢肺炎” (Wuhan pneumonia), etc., can even be classified as violating the code of conduct and the author banned from publication.

On the other hand, many fake Simplified Chinese accounts that spam pornographic messages are often classified as not breaking the rules even if they are reported, which shows that Facebook’s censorship system is problematic.

Taiwan and China are obviously different countries, why should posts from Taiwan be censored by people from another country, especially Chinese people who grew up without freedom of speech?

Taiwan is one of the big users of Facebook. The platform makes a lot of money in Taiwan, but it subjects Taiwanese users to China, which is hardly reasonable. Large-scale online platforms can easily become a vulnerability, allowing totalitarian countries to use democracy to oppose democracy.

It is important that the NCC follows in the footsteps of the EU Digital Services Act and requires these platforms to be open and transparent.

As a democratic country, Taiwan should use the old Digital Services Intermediary Act to require Facebook to set up its own censorship team to prevent the platform from serving the CCP.

Pan Kuan participated in the Sunflower movement.

Translated by Lin Lee Kai

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