The effort of eliminating digital inequality can start with “age-friendliness”

The survey results regarding the current Internet usage situation and Internet application services show Taiwanese people’s accessibility to the Internet and their behavior of using digital services. Overall, the Internet usage rate, the fixed broadband penetration rate, and the mobile broadband penetration rates basically remain unchanged, indicating that the growth of the Internet usage rate has plateaued (stagnated) in Taiwan. Moreover, the analysis result of the Internet non-users was similar to that of the 2022 survey. The top reason why the Internet non-users did not use the Internet is “having no need” (50.49%), meaning they lacked such motivation. However, the second and third most important reasons, “being too old” (46.58%) and “unfamiliar with the internet technology” (45.11%), could be the aspects for the government to improve related policies. First of all, the population structure analysis show that the elderly people have the lowest usage rates of the Internet and various digital services, echoing the survey result that the Internet non-users are mostly of older ages. Therefore, to increase the Internet usage rate and even the digital service usage rate, establishing an age-friendly inclusive digital environment during the digitalization process is an inevitable policy direction for an aging society, as suggested in the report “Ageing in a digital world” released by the International telecommunication Union in 2021. Second, many Internet non-users did not use the Internet because of the unfamiliarity with the related devices. By comparison, the survey result of “possible factors for using the Internet” among the non-users showed that 7.05% of the non-users will be willing to try learning how to use the Internet “if someone can teach or help me.” Thus, the government authorities are suggested to continue to promote digital education in local communities.

Public empowerment to cultivate the immune antibodies against misinformation

The Taiwanese people generally have little confidence on the quality of the information on the SNS. The data shown by this survey indicate that the public has been aware that the quality and credibility of online information is questionable. However, over 50% of the respondents could not tell the authenticity of the conspiracy theories about the origin of the Covid-19 virus, and such ability is not related to the educational level. The respondents were also not aware of the possible prevention measures for misinformation, such as the warning signs on the SNS, or the necessity of being exposed to diverse positions. For the aforementioned findings, it is suggested that the misinformation prevention can start with the following three aspects. First is the establishment of laws and regulations. More than 80% of the respondents regarded that the government has the responsibility to establish laws and regulations to stop the spread of false information. The regulations should not only include penalties for distributing false information but also the responsibilities of the SNS, such as increasing the transparency of the algorithm that distributes divisive speech and actively deleting the illegal or malicious comments and accounts. Second is to develop people’s immunity against misinformation. Facing an online environment filled with false information, people should find other reliable information sources, such as the media with fact-check mechanisms, or build a fact checking habit. Moreover, people should also understand the importance of being exposed to the messages from opposite positions, thereby destroying the conditions for the existence of misinformation. If people actively make themselves exposed to diverse information, the problem of passively relying on or even ignoring the warning signs provided by the SNS can also be reduced. Third, as the position and evidence on the Covid-19 related information are varying, people can only take actions or make judgment according to their own value. This is called motivated reasoning, which may be used to explain why a person’s educational level is not related to his/her belief in conspiracy theories. In other words, breaking the conspiracy theories through clarification and education may not be as effective as expected.

News sharing and providing corrections shape the opinion climate
in social media and instant messaging

The information that circulates on social media and instant messaging is now recognized as an important source of perceptions and opinions that influence people. However, while the content of these messages is often the focus of attention, who distributes them is often overlooked. Some 34.25% of people in Taiwan have shared news on social media and instant messaging in the past month, and the majority of these news-sharers are female, 30-39 years old, highly educated, and they mostly reside in Taipei, New Taipei City, Keelung, Taoyuan, Hsinchu or Miaoli, which means that these people are actually determining the opinion climate of social media and instant messaging, and are replacing the professional news media in their role as secondary gatekeepers. What is even more attention-worthy is the rise of the provision of corrections; 20.17% of people in Taiwan are willing to take the initiative to leave a comment at the bottom of a post, send a private message to the user who posted it, or notify the website administrator to make corrections when they come across fake news, disinformation and misinformation on the Internet. We would like to remind the public to pay attention to the accuracy of any information they are planning to share, and to take the initiative to inquire about it and make corrections if they have concerns about the information rather than remaining silent. This will help curb the spread and influence of fake news, disinformation, and misinformation.

The social influence-based strategy should be adopted to
promote the application of AI services in everyday life

Chatting with chatbots is an emerging phenomenon in today’s digital society. Both voice-based digital assistants and text-based ChatGPT reflect the application of AI technology in people’s everyday life and reveal the possibility and feasibility of human-machine communication. Almost 50% of Taiwanese people have used voice assistants, while only one fourth have used ChatGPT. From their user experience, the chatbots not only provide useful information, but also understand the users’ needs and can bring interesting entertainment effect, which are also reason why people are satisfied with chatbots and willing to continue using them. However, the survey also found that the chatbot users vary according to sex, age, educational level, and residence. Related factors such as occupation, opportunities of access to technology, and self-efficacy should be further explored. For those who have not used chatbots before, the approaches for increasing their intention to use chatbots include increasing their understanding of the chatbots’ functions like entertainment, companionship, and chatting, creating the impression that using a chatbot is like interacting with a human, emphasizing other features of chatbots besides being useful and easy to use. At the same time, the social influence-based promotion strategy can be adopted, such as providing the trends and prospects regarding the use of chatbots domestically and internationally, sharing it online through word of mouth, and advocating the advantages and fun of using chatbots within groups.

Gaps still exist in fraud prevention and control measures,
and social media platforms are urged to share in the responsibility

Fraud is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society, and nearly 70% of people in Taiwan have received scam messages in the past three months. Although the public has become more and more risk-aware, the results of this survey also found that 11.57% of people still believe that they do not have the confidence to know how to seek appropriate assistance when encountering fraud. The results also show that relevant policies need to strengthen the promotion of fraud prevention, and the channels for the public to seek help need to be further improved. In addition, with the high popularization of social media and instant messaging software, information/messaging platforms have also become hotbeds for fraudsters. Relevant government agencies may refer to the measures proposed by the United Kingdom this year, such as the Anti-Fraud Ecosystem and Social Media Reimbursement, so that fraud prevention is no longer a battle to be fought by public awareness alone, but rather a group approach that integrates the coordination and joint efforts of the government, corporations and the public. Enterprises should urge social media platforms to formulate compensation measures for victims of fraud on the platforms, and include the enterprises in the fraud prevention and protection network to share the responsibility, so that the enterprises can participate more actively in fraud prevention.

Online audiovisual communication, increasingly emotional and fragmented, may pose a hidden threat to society's culture and politics.

After summarizing the interviews with experts and academics, it is clear that while the development of Taiwan’s online audiovisual communication industry is becoming more mature and diverse, there are also concerns about emotionalization and fragmentation. On the one hand, both live streaming and short videos such as those on TikTok have resorted to high emotional tension in order to attract the attention and adhesion of their audience. This may not only be harmful to the physical and mental health of the content producers and the audience, but also aggravate the polarization and antagonism in Taiwanese society on political and social issues. On the other hand, TikTok’s short-video model is the source of the issue of fragmentation in the overall audiovisual communication. Although TikTok is still primarily entertainment-oriented and seemingly harmless, the adoption of short videos in political audiovisual communication is already present on TikTok, Facebook and YouTube, which will inevitably lead to the fragmentation of various political and social issues. This will inevitably lead to the decontextualization and fragmentation of discussions on various political and social issues, which in turn will harm the foundation of Taiwanese society. Therefore, finding a balance between the free development of the market and a government exacting control based on the concept of democracy is the biggest issue facing all of society as online audiovisual communication develops.