The social media platforms have changed our life tremendously and the way that people consume daily news or check the information that they want. Most young people in Taiwan have access to Facebook, Line and Instagram to communicate with each other, and some corporations even set up their own official Line account so customers can send the messages to them. During the past decades, Taiwanese used to communicate through MSN messenger, but it just became history ever since the new social media platforms created.
One of the famous Canadian commentators, J Michael Cole, the former editor-in-chief at Taiwan Sentinel and other associations, publishing “Convergence or Conflict in the Taiwan Strait” in either digital or physical version. His LinkedIn account was blocked few months ago, which is terrified due to the reason that many LinkedIn accounts are for job hunting, so people would publish their work experiences as detail as possible in order to find the perfect one.
Most of people started to register their Facebook account when the first time it launched the service, people shared their stories, photos, and even marriage status. I guess there are probably 60% of population in Taiwan depend on it for many things. Some people create their Facebook page to promote their products or use it as marketing tool. The Facebook helps people meet with strangers and connect to the ones that we love no matter where they are. It’s basically free for people to send messages to their friends or find their lost family.
Everything seems to be perfect until one day that Facebook decided to invest in China though it was in vain. There is nothing wrong to develop the new market in the giant country like that, especially for CEO. However, they overlooked the power of Chinese censorship and the following long term effect that may cause them to close the market. The current Taiwanese account users are governed by Chinese, so they could see whatever we post, which is unfair to our people.
There were few groups created by the name of ” I am Taiwanese” with more than 10 thousand followers, and one of the groups was even followed by 100 thousand people few years ago but was reported by anonymous party; therefore, the account was locked and followers were lost in just one day. Some Taiwanese who support the pro democratic party, post something funny about China, or curse Chinese public figures, have been blocked for some period of time. The worst part is that some Taiwanese are harassed by unknown accounts, which intend to trace them due to political stances. And these unknown accounts are perfectly designed to please target persons, they could be single doctor who is widower, American or Japanese, after accepting friend requests, they start to send Chinese messages or something polite but official conversations.
Besides, Facebook can trace to other sites even the off-Facebook activity is turned off. So it collects the personal information, preferred online shopping sites, or the movie genre that people like. Over the past few months, there were more than 150, 000 Facebook users changed their social networks to Minds when the Vietnamese government requested the Facebook to hand over activists’ information. In Thailand, 250,000 followers moved to Twitter to avoid the censorship, according to the online resources. But Twitter has just been acquired by one of the Chinese state companies, so I don’t know how long the freedom of speech can last.
Line is maybe more popular than Facebook in Taiwan when it comes to free social media. Part of the reason could be Japan origin, though it was created by one of the Korean engineers situated in Japan. People like to talk or share things through Line accounts, have live chat with friends or create groups to discuss something they want to know between themselves.
For the past few years, the Line accounts were started to broadcast fake news and these news were distorted, which were not the original policy that our government intended to tell people, and they could be traced to China. From the vaccine injection information to quantities of face masks, many elders trust their group messages or Chinese videos that they share. It is said that even watching the video takes our personal information, though we probably have no privacy left now with so many social media.
This March, Japanese media reported that personal information such as names, telephone numbers, mail address, or ID were leaked to the outsourcing Chinese company, which means that they can read our contents shared with people through Line.
Taiwanese media platforms
It was said that Yahoo search engine and the YouTube channel were part of created by Taiwanese, though those Taiwanese may quit from the social media industry for many reasons after few years dedication. I believe that our technology and talents can help us develop a safe social platform without any censorship. If possible, people in this world could join us without suffering whether its political or religious problem.