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Cheong Wa Dae to inspect its petition board

Posted April. 17, 2018 08:19,   

Updated April. 17, 2018 08:19


South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has taken on a major overhaul of its petition board on account of the alleged online comment-rigging scandal by a power blogger surnamed Kim, also known as Druking. The inspection is intended to see if anyone is able to rig public opinion using macro (a program to manipulate the number of likes) as Kim did, on the petition board of the official Cheong Wa Dae website, which has become one of the most visited online spaces since President Moon Jae-in took office.

“Prompted by the opinion rigging scandal, we began an internal inspection of the petition board,” a senior official at the presidential office said on Monday. “Although there has not been any suspicion of an organized manipulation of public opinion yet, it is part of an effort to prevent any side effects from such rigging.” Cheong Wa Dae is reportedly focusing on any manipulation of the number of consent using illegal programs, given the nature of the petition board, where the number of consent far outweighs that of comments. The petition board is run by a system where a petition with the largest number of consent appears at the top of the list and Cheong Wa Dae responds to petitions that have been approved by more than 200,000 people.

Cheong Wa Dae has good reasons to carry out a massive inspection. First, it has already found a suspicious circumstance of the possible rigging. It announced a temporary suspension of connection via Kakao Talk, the nation’s top mobile messenger service, since some users are found to have inadequately logged onto its website in February when a method enabling unlimited, repetitive approval through the messaging platform spread online. Currently, only Facebook, Tweeter, and Naver accounts are allowed to access the bulletin board.

Second, the petition board has become a battlefield of public opinion online since its opening last August. The board, which continues to garner huge public interest, has received more than 160,000 petitions to date. Naturally, it also serves as a place where the progressives and conservatives raise their own voice without care and concern.

This is why there is a voice within Cheong Wa Dae that it is necessary to change the way of running the system such as raising the standard for answering petitions. “The petition board is established for the purpose of hearing voices of the underprivileged in society. And how we make sure that the board is not biased in any way is a subject still under consideration.” said an official at Cheong Wa Dae.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com