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The Investigation Bureau issued the warning after finding a Twitter post saying that COVID-19 is ‘out of control’ in Taiwan and the bodies are piling up
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
People who repost disinformation about the nation’s COVID-19 situation on social media could be charged with criminal intent, the Investigation Bureau said, after a Twitter post said that morgues were overflowing with bodies.
Under Article 14 of the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), “individuals who disseminate rumors or false information regarding the epidemic ... causing damage to the public or others” face to up to three years in prison or a fine of up to NT$3 million (US$101,146), or both.
Bureau officials issued the reminder on Thursday, after finding a post on Twitter saying COVID-19 is “out of control in Taiwan. Corpses are piling up in the morgues, the crematoriums are operating all night long, with workers collapsing due to exhaustion.”
A picture accompanying the post showed numerous bodies laid out in rows in a dark-lit parking lot, with a tired-looking worker kneeling among them.
The Cyber Security Investigation Office found that the image had been lifted from The Flu, a 2013 South Korean film about a deadly virus outbreak, bureau information officer Tseng Ting-yue (曾婷岳) said.
The Twitter account was being used from an Internet protocol address outside Taiwan, she said, adding that it is believed to be used to produce and disseminate false news about Taiwan.
The account is registered to someone using the surname Xu (徐), but they had used the surname Ke (珂) until they were reported for circulating disinformation about Taiwan, Tseng said.
“As people are anxious about the [COVID-19] situation now, this [post] is taking advantage of that in an attempt to create panic and ... disrupt our nation’s efforts to combat the spreading virus,” Tseng said.
Based on the style of Chinese used, the post most likely originated in China, or was created under the instruction of Chinese authorities, the bureau said.
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