The rise of falsehoods
The prevalence of social media has increased the number of information channels accessible to the public. Given the abundance of information received, people spend less time verifying the authenticity of such information. According to the National Development Council, the percentage of internet users who do not verify facts rose from 34.8% in 2018 to 44.9% in 2019.
The decline of truth
With the popularity of wireless network in recent years, changes in media ecologies have prompted news outlets to produce more time-sensitive items, and live streams and satellite news gatherings have become commonplace. Unverified statements by politicians are often disseminated rapidly. A digital news report released by The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism revealed that as much as 40% of the public believe that politicians are the main source of misinformation. Digital News Report 2022 has shown that trust in news in Taiwan is low by 27%.
A third-party verification mechanism
Social media should take responsibility for the rise of misinformation. Public–private partnerships established to serve as an independent and impartial third-party verification mechanism are the current prevailing practice for censoring misinformation.
The Taiwan Society for Targeting Misinformation (TSTM) is founded on social diversity and endeavors to present the truth, unadulterated by political views or prejudices. We uphold the principles of independence and justice in our practices to provide the public with references that can be used to judge major matters of public interest. Our services extend to the verification of the truthfulness and accuracy of information; we do not make value judgements.
We receive fact-checks information provided by the public and information reported in the news, paying attention to relevant information in mass and social media. Because of the considerable volume of information and our limited time and staffing resources, we prioritize the fact-checking of information that is newsworthy and of the most value.
Purpose and scope of service
The Taiwan Society for Targeting Misinformation (TSTM) shall establish a steering committee (hereafter “the Committee”) comprising five to nine members. The responsibilities of the Committee include determining TSTM operational guidelines and reviewing and approving major decisions. The Committee chairperson shall be elected among the committee members.
TSTM shall establish an editorial team comprising one editor-in-chief, one lead editor, and several fact-checkers. On the basis of the steering committee’s decisions, the editor-in-chief shall comprehensively manage TSTM operations in fact-checking misinformation and present appeals and feedback from the general public to the Committee for deliberation. The outcomes of the Committee’s deliberations shall be released to the public.
TSTM screens information according to the following criteria.
- Whether the information is based on verifiable fact(s): TSTM only fact-checks content and accounts that can be verified and does not fact-check opinions.
- Information dissemination speed and capacity: TSTM prioritizes the fact-checking of information that is rapidly and widely disseminated.
- Impact of the information topic: TSTM prioritizes the fact-checking of information that has an immediate, direct, and significant influence impact on matters of public interest.
- In view of TSTM’s scale and staffing, information that requires fact-checking but cannot be processed immediately is listed as a future priority.
- TSTM aims to be open, transparent, independent, and rigorous in its fact-checking operations, which shall be based on factual information.
- TSTM conducts fact-checking for information reported to us and for statements reported in the news, published on social networking websites, or made by public figures.
- TSTM shall establish an independent steering committee that is responsible for supervising the editorial team and reviewing the fact-checking reports based on the topics and contents to maintain the quality of fact-checking.
- Daily fact-checking items shall be determined in the editorial team meeting. Before publication, fact-checking reports must be edited by one factchecker, then reviewed and approved by the editor-in-chief. Fact-checkers are responsible for writing the first draft of the report and verifying the accuracy and comprehensiveness of its contents and basis. In the event of a major dispute, the editor-in-chief shall consult with the steering committee.
- When necessary, during fact-checking operations, TSTM shall consult with the steering committee and experts and pundits in the field in question and may collect testimonies from the parties in question.
- Fact-checking reports shall be publicized on TSTM website and through its partners and affiliate media. The factual bases of our fact-checking reports shall also be made available for public reference. The fact-checking results shall be analyzed by topic.
- The fact-checking results shall be open to responses from the general public. If TSTM identifies any errors in our original fact-checking report, the report shall be immediately corrected, and the corrections published.
- In the event the steering committee identifies operational negligence or erroneous information in the fact-checking report, the committee may offer suggestions on how to address the situation. If the editor-in-chief disagrees with a submitted appeal, the editor-in-chief shall present their argument to the steering committee, which makes the final determination.
- These guidelines were prescribed in reference to the regulations and standards of the International Fact-Checking Network.
- These guidelines and any amendments shall be promulgated following approval by the steering committee.
1. Factual statements
We do not fact-check personal opinions. We do investigate descriptions of events in statements made by politicians.
We prioritize high-value topics of social concern.
We fact-check information that affects the public and is likely to be repeatedly disseminated.
We fact-check information that arouses skepticism in the general public.
We fact-check information that has already been disclosed on public media.
1.Verification of statements
Statements made by public figures are the main source of misinformation. We fact-check such statements to prevent the continued spread of misinformation.
2. Verification of international news
International news items are often reported out of context or lost in translation. In the future, we endeavor to restore the truthfulness of international news reports through providing more objective, balanced, and accurate statements.
3. Media literacy
In addition to fact-checking services, we also release statements on the media’s word choices, fact-checking negligence, and other similar violations of journalistic ethics when necessary.
4. Medical information
We investigate popular social media messages about health and wellness and provide accurate medical knowledge.
5. Public polls
We investigate information released through election campaigns or by media consultants and invite experts to offer their analysis and interpretation of the polls.
6. Other areas
Besides four subjects above, we also investigate other social public issues and images to prevent the continued spread of misinformation.
The Taiwan Society for Targeting Misinformation (TSTM) acquires its information from domestic and international news reports and from official social media channels, including statements from public figures, data on public health and medicine, as well as the results of election polls.
TSTM also accepts information reported by the public. We investigate these messages, statements, reports, and poll numbers through tracing as well as verifying the sources of these claims using the following practices.
1. Open information shall be collected and compiled from three or more credible third parties and government or official sources.
2. Any interviews with, quotations from, or interpretations by experts or pundits shall be clearly cited, with the expert or pundit clearly identified, to allow the public to clearly identify the source and credibility of the information.
3. Polls referenced in the fact-checking report shall be clearly cited along with the details about the source and polling agency.
4. We should explain how to verify on the fact-check reports. All readers can follow the same way to do verification, getting the same verification conclusion.
5. With regard to reverse image search, we should explain how to verify on the fact-check reports. All readers can follow the same way to do verification, getting the same verification conclusion.
TSTM is diligent in ensuring the accuracy and rigorousness of its fact-checking reports. Consequently, in the event of any reporting errors, TSTM shall, in the spirit of responsibility, immediately correct the report and publish the corrections.
If you think that we have made an error or were not sufficiently clear or comprehensive in a fact-checking report, please let us know using our contact form with the subject line, “Fact-check request”: https://tstm.tw/Home/Contact. We welcome any suggestions on how to improve our fact-checking reports.
All suggestions regarding our fact-checking reports are to be reviewed by at least one fact-checker and by the lead editor and editor-in-chief. Any revision to the report in question shall be decided upon within one week of receiving the suggestion and communicated to the person who made the suggestion.
If revision to a fact-checking report involves changing the fact-checking judgment, we shall explain and emphasize the reason for the revision to the report. The report shall be marked as “Revised” and republished alongside the latest reports. If the revision involves supplemental information or clarification and does not affect the fact-checking judgment, we shall mark the original report as “Updated.” Republishing an updated report is not necessary.
To ensure that our fact-checking team remains impartial when reviewing appeals from the public, our fact-checking guidelines state that, in the event of the fact-checking team’s disagreement with a submitted appeal, the appeal and argument for the dissent shall be presented to the steering committee. The steering committee shall then make the final determination.
The Taiwan Society for Targeting Misinformation (TSTM) was established through investments made by 21st Century Foundation and is managed independently by a steering committee of five to nine committee members. The responsibilities of the steering committee include determining the TSTM’s operational guidelines, reviewing and approving major decisions. The Committee chairperson shall be elected among the committee members.
The independent editorial team comprises one editor-in-chief, one lead editor, and several fact-checkers. The editor-in-chief and lead editor are in charge of TSTM’s fact-checking operations, which operate according to the steering committee’s decisions, as well as of presenting appeals and feedback from the public to the Committee for deliberation. The outcomes of Committee resolutions are subsequently released to the public.
For the purpose of long-term and steady development, TSTM has one chairperson, one editor-in-chief and one lead editor. The editor-in-chief and one lead editor shall comprehensively manage TSTM’s operations in fact-checking misinformation according to the decisions of the steering committee.
Ling-Ling Ku (Associate professor cum dean, the Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan University)
Huang, Chao-Sung (Former chairperson, Central News Agency)
Chin, Chuan-Chun (Professor of Epidemiology, National Taiwan University)
Chen, Shen-Ching (Publisher, Central News Agency)
Chen, I-Min (Professor chair, School of Medicine, Fu Jen Catholic University)
Wang, Ming-Chu (Deputy Superintendent, National Taiwan University Cancer Center)
Lai, Hsiang-Wai (Department chair, Department of Radio and Television, National Taiwan University of Arts)
Liu, Hui-Ling (Graduate Institute of Arts Administration and Management, National Taiwan University of Arts)
Editor-in-chief: Chen, Hsiu-Feng (Assistant professor-level professional technician, Shih-Hsin University)
Lead editor: Su, Yuan-He (Founder and former editor-in-chief, TDC News)
Fact-checkers: Hu, Kai-Chun, Chiang,Jui-Ling
Art editor: Cheng, Yu-Che