2023 Dec W3 – 2024 Taiwan Presidential Election Information Manipulation AI Observation Report

Insights on Manipulation Strategies

From September to November 2023, PRC state-affiliated media’s primary narrative involved threatening Taiwan with war, accusing the Taiwanese government of pushing the island towards the brink of war. In December, as the election approached, the tone of war threats diminished as the election approached. China shifted its focus to emphasize Taiwan’s educational system and economic issues, particularly highlighting the “impact of the termination of ECFA on Taiwan’s economy” and “the wave of university closures in Taiwan” to the “De-Sinicization of Taiwan’s curriculum design” as key education-related issues.

AI Labs’ analysis from September to December identified troll groups most closely echoing PRC state-affiliated media narratives, with Facebook #61009 (42.6%) and Facebook #61019 (37.2%) showing the highest level of resonance.

As the election drew closer, the narrative trends of Facebook #61009 closely aligned with China’s official media, focusing on war threats against Taiwan and primarily attacking educational and economic issues. Domestically, the group mainly targeted Tsai Ing-wen, labeling her as a ‘fake Ph.D.’; internationally, they criticized U.S. domestic issues in English, branding Biden as a dictator. Both domestic and international operations prominently used livelihood issues as their primary attack strategy.

Since September, Facebook #61019 has mirrored official media trends in the narrative of “The U.S. disregards the life and death of Taiwanese people,” with recent narratives also including war threats and economic issues. Domestically, the group focused on Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis controversy, while internationally, they attacked U.S. foreign policy failures in English, claiming a stronger voice in Taiwan favoring unification.

Regarding the coordinating behavior of this week, PRC state-affiliated media continued last week’s narrative and theme, focusing on “DPP’s election will lead to military danger” and “Termination of ECFA impacts Taiwan’s economy.” Following China’s announcement on December 21st terminating 12 ECFA tariff preferences, there was a surge in operations on PTT and YouTube.

Throughout the week, platforms in Taiwan featured narratives attacking the illegal construction at Lai Ching-te’s family home, with official media also discussing this from December 19th to 21st. Analyzing related narratives across platforms, PTT and Facebook had the highest activity levels. The groups most closely echoing official media, Facebook #61019 (33.8%) and Facebook #61009 (26.6%), were also the most active, employing tactics like repetitive comments using phrases such as “Lai Pi Liao (賴皮寮)” and “Refusing to demolish (賴著不拆)” to manipulate the discussion.

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