SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean web portals are allowing users to report and essentially erase misinformation associated with criminal cases and their association with certain venues and areas.
According to sources close to the IT industry, the Korea Internet Self-governance Organization (KISO) adopted a provision last June that makes it possible for users to report negative keywords related to towns or business establishments, in an effort to stop the spread of misinformation.
The private organization with over ten web portals on board including Naver and Kakao introduced the measure following the murder of two elementary school students in Incheon last March.
Reports of the case spawned a number of keywords associated with places near the location of the murder, including a local school, apartment complex and a park, with their information showing up in web portal searches about the case.
Due to the nature of search engine algorithms, venues and residential areas become associated with criminal cases based on misinformation and loosely factual anecdotal evidence so long as they are mentioned frequently, drawing criticism from local residents.
Some apartment blocks and schools have been lumped together and heavily associated with suicide and battery in the past, leaving room for stigma and stereotypes.
Against this backdrop and with requests from local government offices, the murder of the two students became the first case to be subject to KISO’s provision.
“When the media doesn’t mention actual names and places, it usually means they aren’t in the interest of the public. The (KISO’s) rule goes to show that web portals believe disclosing the names of places by accident and subjecting communities to stigma are unfair,” one web portal official said.
Related keywords can only be erased from South Korean web portals like Naver on account of rules specified by the KISO.
Previously, the KISO allowed related keywords to be erased on grounds of personal information leakage, defamation of character based on false information, and hate speech.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)