With six days left until the June 13 local election, fake news is prevalent as it was concerned. The National Election Commission revealed on Wednesday that it tracked down 3,383 cases of announcing false information through online in relation to the upcoming election. This is a 3.6 folds increase from 939 cases in the June 4 local election in 2014. The fake news of the upcoming election is spreading mainly through the internet and mobile devices which is used by a majority of the citizens such as SNS and YouTube, inflicting damage incomparable to the groundless rumors or false propaganda of the past era centered on oral transmission or printouts.
Fake news these days are spreading well beyond knowledge. With respect to the local election that 9,325 candidates are running, fake news related to the personal information of the candidate is distributed through means such as Kakao Talk, even before the media or the National Election Commission confirms it. This sort of news may become fatal to the candidates but they are too personal for the media to inquire one by one and report, which may mean that the truth may not be revealed even until the day of the election.
Fake news is made in a form of a video clip or an article, creating strong pulling power, and even confusing for experts as it combines false information and facts cunningly. A video clip uploaded on YouTube called ‘‘○○○ xxxx xx pregnant?,” specifying the name of a candidate, who is a leader of an institution, was a mix-match of a person who distributed fake news on a “private fact sheet” receiving criminal punishment, hitting more than 20,000 viewers.
As such, even though fake news is engulfing the SNS and YouTube, the response of the site manager is completely irresponsible. In particular, even with the repeated request by the National Election Commission, YouTube, which has 23 million viewers per month, is refusing to cooperate in relation to dealing with fake news. As YouTube is operated in a method that it obtains orders from company advertisements and hands out profits from advertisements in proportion to the number of viewers, video clips on politicians with provocative clickbait titles are used to draw viewers. The National Election Commission and the competent authority should respond strongly pursuant to laws against operators of the site who are obsessed with earning money and encourage false news, and businesses should also withdraw advertisement.
This local election is a festival to elect workers who will lead the substantial decentralization system based on enforcing local financial independency and an autonomous police system. This is the first national level election since the change of administration following an impeachment. In other words, this is a precious opportunity to confirm what our citizens have in mind regarding the path Korea needs to take. SNS fake news that distorts the will of the people at this conjuncture is a deadly virus that exploits the pillar of democracy.