SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 5 August 2021, Thursday |

Vietnam to tighten grip on social media livestream activity

In its latest step to reign in anti-state online activity, Vietnam’s government is attempting to boost supervision of livestream content on social media platforms such as Facebook and Google.

Cross-border social media platforms operating in Vietnam must submit contact information of account owners with more than 10,000 followers or subscribers, according to a draft rule from the ministry of information and communications.

While the regulation applies to domestic social media companies like Zalo, a homegrown social media platform, most livestream recordings are hosted on international sites.

The ministry estimates the top 10 Vietnamese social media platforms have about 80 million users combined, while foreign competitors are dominant, with Facebook’s 65 million users, YouTube’s 60 million users and TikTok’s 20 million.

“These platforms have not fully abided by Vietnamese laws,” the ministry said.

“A lot of content posted there is disinformation, causing instability and frustration in the society and inequality between domestic and foreign companies.”

Facebook and TikTok had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters, while Google did not immediately respond.

The ministry said people were increasingly using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok to deliver their own news or provide false information.

The draft, which has yet to be approved, requires social media providers to block or remove flagged content within 24 hours upon “justified” requests by Vietnamese individuals and affected organizations.

Last week, Reuters revealed that soldiers were more likely than celebrities to be social media “influencers,” known as Force 47, who were entrusted with creating, moderating, and posting on pro-state Facebook groups to correct “wrong opinions” online.

Increased censorship of messages, culls on accounts expressing “wrong beliefs,” and regular criticism of some multinational corporations by regulators have all contributed to a tightening of online content in Vietnam.

Foreign corporations must set up local offices and keep data in Vietnam, according to the country’s 2018 cybersecurity law. According to Facebook, the company does not store user data in the nation.