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Vietnam introduces 24-hour withdrawal requirement for social media platforms – The Diplomat

Beat ASEAN | Policy | South East Asia

The move is the latest in state attempts to cleanse the online sphere of “fake news” and “anti-state” content.

Vietnam has further tightened its restrictions on social media platforms, decreeing that they remove “misinformation” and “fake news” within 24 hours of submissions by Vietnamese authorities.

Like Reuters reportedVietnam’s Information and Communications Minister Nguyen Manh Hung told the country’s parliament late last week that the “opt-out” period offered to big tech companies had been reduced to 24 hours from 48 hours before. Hung justified the move by saying that “fake news, if dealt with slowly, will spread very widely.”

He also said, according to Reuters, that Vietnam would increase penalties for publishing and spreading “disinformation”, which Hung said was currently only a fraction of the amount imposed by neighboring countries. “The department will propose to the government an increase in administrative fines to a level high enough to deter the public,” he said.

From the perspective of the Communist Party of Vietnam (VCP), “disinformation” and “fake news” are more or less equivalent to the elastic definitions contained in its penal code, which prohibits “anti-state” activities and anything that is considered as undermining the life of the Party. monopoly of power. Recognizing that social media offers a borderless means of communication for opponents of the government, it has unsurprisingly set out to restrict it and migrate its legacy media controls to the digital sphere.

Plans for a 24-hour withdrawal period have been first reported by Reuters in April, part of a series of reports the news agency has published on the VCP’s recent series of measures aimed at reining in the unruly online sphere. Vietnamese are avid social media users – the country has the seventh largest swimming pool users worldwide, in addition to the 60 million users of YouTube and 20 million on TikTok – and the Party is determined to ensure that these digital technologies remain in harmony with its own political prerogatives.

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So far, he has risen to the challenge from several angles. He introduced a social media code of conduct which encourages people to post positive things about their country and prohibits anything that violates the law or affects “the interests of the state.” It also forced tech companies to store user data locally and create local offices and is prepare new rules to limit which social media accounts can post news-related content.

Perhaps most important is the pressure on social media platforms to remove “fake news” and “anti-state” content. In the case of Facebook, they took advantage of the fact that the country generates an estimated $1 billion in annual revenue for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, which has therefore been willing to accede to takedown requests. In a report published in late 2020, advocacy group Amnesty International claimed that Facebook and YouTube are complicit in “industry-scale censorship and repression” in Vietnam.

Although a 24-hour withdrawal requirement is not the strictest in Southeast Asia – proposed rules in indonesia requiring technology companies to respond to “urgent” content removal requests within four hours – this marks an important step in the VCP’s goal of ensuring critical content remains trapped in the digital network.

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