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Vietnam wants to get a better grip on livestream activities on social media

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In this illustration from July 13, 2021, the Facebook app can be seen on a smartphone. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration

HANOI, Jul 14 (Reuters) – The Vietnamese government is trying to tighten controls on livestream content on social media outlets like Facebook (FB.O) and Google (BrilleL.O) in an attempt to restrict the online activities it is responsible for possible holds anti-state.

According to a draft decree by the Ministry of Information and Communication, cross-border social media platforms operating in Vietnam must provide contact information for account operators with more than 10,000 followers or subscribers.

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

“These platforms did not fully comply with Vietnamese laws,” the ministry said.

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

Facebook and TikTok did not have an instant comment when contacted by Reuters, while Google did not respond immediately.

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

The draft has yet to be approved and requires social media providers to block or remove flagged content within 24 hours of “reasoned” requests from Vietnamese individuals and affected organizations.

“Almost every country that has passed laws on online content has endangered human rights,” said Peggy Hicks, director of thematic engagement at the UN human rights office.

“This is happening both because governments respond to public pressure by rushing with simple solutions to complex problems, and because some governments see this legislation as a way to restrict the language they don’t like,” Hicks said in a statement.

Reuters reported last week that social media “influencers” are soldiers rather than celebrities, known as Force 47, tasked with setting up, moderating and posting on pro-state Facebook groups to correct “wrong views” online. Continue reading

Vietnam has seen a sharp increase in online content, with heightened post censorship, deletions of accounts for “false belief” and increased regulatory criticism of some global companies.

Additional reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Martin Petty

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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