Before the US, Taiwan had already banned TikTok from the government. Phones

The potential for geopolitical propaganda on TikTok presents a significant threat to Taiwan, a nation located just 80 miles off the coast of China. For years, China has been a central player in Taiwan’s battle against digital deception and foreign interference. However, unlike Congress, Taiwan’s government is not considering legislation that could lead to a TikTok ban. Taiwanese officials view the TikTok controversy as the latest battleground in their ongoing fight against misinformation and external influence.

Taiwan has bolstered its defenses with a number of initiatives, such as a government ministry devoted to digital issues and an extensive network of independent fact-checking groups. Along with TikTok and two other similar Chinese applications—Douyin and Xiaohongshu—the government banned all three in 2019 via an executive order. Because of privacy concerns, the political party that has led Taiwan for the last eight years (and will lead for the next four if Lai Ching-te takes office on Monday) does not use the app at all, not even during election season.

Taiwanese policymakers are acutely aware that the issue of disinformation cannot be confined to TikTok alone. Taiwanese internet users are vulnerable to disinformation spread through various social media channels, including chat rooms and short films. Despite its relatively young democracy, Taiwan has a rich tradition of free expression on political issues. Platforms like Dcard and Professional Technology Temple are popular hubs for debate. This vulnerability underscores the need for robust measures to combat disinformation.

Foreigners control the majority of the most popular sites; TikTok is only one of many. In Taiwan, TikTok isn’t even close to the popularity of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Line—a messaging app operated by a Japanese affiliate of the South Korean internet behemoth Naver. To combat online fraud and cybercrime, Taiwanese lawmakers are considering legislation that would apply to all current and future social media sites, including TikTok.