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Google donates $ 1 million to fund media literacy initiatives in Taiwan

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Taipei, Nov. 4 (CNA) US tech company Google Inc. donated $ 1 million to the Taiwan FactCheck Center (TFC) on Thursday to fund the center’s media literacy initiatives.

The $ 1 million will be paid out over the next three years as part of Google’s Intelligent Taiwan initiatives to combat the effects of disinformation, the company said.

Google’s financial contribution will help fund around 600 workshops and coach 700 trainers, which the company says will benefit 23,000 people.

The tech company added that the money will specifically fund workshops for the elderly, people in remote areas, indigenous groups and newly naturalized citizens.

Google said that in the digital age, these types of people are more likely to be disadvantaged and therefore more prone to disinformation.

As part of the project, the TFC will work with other domestic groups such as the National Association for the Promotion of Community Universities, Fakenewscleaner, Taiwan Media Watch, the Association of Quality Journalism, and the Center for Media Literacy in Taiwan at National Chengchi University to help people educate and reach more diverse communities.

TFC chairman Hu Yuan-Hui (胡元輝) said media literacy has never been more important in the face of widespread pandemic-related disinformation in Taiwan.

“It’s not just a single fact-checking initiative. It is a social movement and participation in and anticipation for democracy, ”Hu said.

The TFC, jointly founded by the Association for Quality Journalism and Taiwan Media Watch, is a non-profit organization that aims to review information in the public domain, improve the country’s information ecosystem, and improve the quality of news, so the center’s website.

In Taiwan, the spread of disinformation became particularly significant at the start of a domestic COVID-19 outbreak in May.

At the time, several unconfirmed messages spread on social media, including one claiming a hospital in Taiwan had to dump the bodies of people who died of COVID-19 in a river due to an overcrowded morgue.

Another article, incorrectly presented as a news report, alleged that more than 20,000 COVID-19 patients were collectively cremated in Taipei – including some who were still alive.

Experts described the ongoing disinformation about the pandemic as a “concentrated offensive” and “pressure test of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against Taiwan”.

In fact, Anita Chen (陳幼臻), director of government affairs and public order at Google Taiwan, said a survey conducted by the company showed that more than 80 percent of Taiwanese agreed to have received misinformation.

But less than 10 percent had participated in some type of media literacy program – even though 90 percent thought the topic was important.

However, Google itself has been investigated on allegations that it allowed disinformation to spread unchecked.

In March, its CEO Sundar Pichai was called to a hearing in Congress on the matter, and Washington is debating whether to remove legal protections that prevent tech companies from being held liable for disinformation posted on their platforms.

(By Yeh Kuan-yin and Ken Wang)

Enditem / ASG

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