[EDITORIALS]Online political cesspoolCyberspace is tainted by low quality propaganda and illegal election campaigning. Almost all bulletin boards on Internet sites that have to do with the presidential election are filled with slander and sarcastic criticism. A war of hatred is raging in cyberspace, dividing people into battling camps and filled with curses like "Red," "pro-Japanese," "hopeless" and others unprintable. Malignant slander and black propaganda that would never be tolerated in a street-corner speech prevail in the online world where people can hide their identities. As a new arena for politics, cyberspace is already spoiled.
Statistics show that the majority of election law violators engaged in black propaganda are to be found in cyberspace. According to the Central Election Management Committee, 9,000 cases of slander and black propaganda were ordered deleted from Web sites; in 52 cases, indictments or warnings were issued. These figures show that the situation is serious. Moreover, some Internet sites openly side with the candidate the operator prefers and criticize the other candidates openly.
Such irregularities on the Internet are a result of overheated competition between political parties. Campaign headquaters of the candidates are racing to win the support of voters in their 20s and 30s. Some Internet newspapers circulated manipulated results of opinon polls. The Millennium Democratic Party criticized the Grand National Party for allegedly plotting to contract with mobile phone companies to disseminate text messages supporting the GNP candidate. According to law inforcement authorities, political parties hire droves of "cyber writers" to engage in Internet debate.
Cyber politics is a new experiment in grass-roots democracy. It could open a new dimension for election campaigns that could flourish in this information technology stronghold. But as things are, the future of e-politics is gloomy. The election law cannot keep up with the times, so cleaning up the mess is impossible.
We need cooperation by Internet users to make cyberspace a forum for policy debate.