Suspicious videos that began circulating in Taiwan this month seemed to show the country’s leader advertising cryptocurrency investments.
President Tsai Ing-wen, who has repeatedly risked Beijing’s ire by asserting her island’s autonomy, appeared to claim in the clips that the government helped develop investment software for digital currencies, using a term that is common in China but rarely used in Taiwan. Her mouth appeared blurry and her voice unfamiliar, leading Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau to deem the video to be almost certainly a deepfake — an artificially generated spoof — and potentially one created by Chinese agents.
For years, China has pummeled the Taiwanese information ecosystem with inaccurate narratives and conspiracy theories, seeking to undermine its democracy and divide its people in an effort to assert control over its neighbor. Now, as fears over Beijing’s growing aggression mount, a new wave of disinformation is heading across the strait separating Taiwan from the mainland before the pivotal election in January.