Vietnam Warns TikTok, Social Media Apps Over ‘Toxic’ Content
(Bloomberg) -- Vietnam’s communications ministry said TikTok isn’t doing enough to remove toxic and false content and warned that the government could soon take measures to restrict operations of the popular social media platform and others seen as violating national laws.
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Poor management and oversight has led to the spread of “fake news” and “deviant” and “anti-government” content on TikTok, “threatening and corrupting the country’s culture and morals,” Le Quang Tu Do, the director of Vietnam’s Authority of Broadcasting, Television, and Electronic Information — a part of the ministry — told reporters on Thursday.
Do, who said he’s seen similar violations by Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook and YouTube, cited “weak management” at TikTok that has ultimately led to content that violates intellectual property rights and facilitates illegal business operations.
The comments are the latest by governments around the world looking more closely at the impact of social media. TikTok has been of particular focus in many nations: it’s already been banned in India and is under severe scrutiny in the US, where several states have barred its use on government phones because of concerns the app’s Chinese owner, ByteDance Ltd., could be required to share its data with Beijing.
The communications ministry plans a “comprehensive” inspection of TikTok’s business in Vietnam in May amid rising “toxic” content and fake information on the social media platform, according to a posting on the ministry’s website.
Unlike China, people in Vietnam have access to the world’s most popular social platforms. The nation’s internet, though, is tightly monitored by the communist government, which is stepping up efforts to rid websites of content it objects to.
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Officials are also pressuring foreign tech companies, telecom operators and data storage providers to store local data in the country if the services they offer violate Vietnam’s cybersecurity regulations and remedies aren’t put in place to the government’s liking.
The communications ministry has previously proposed a decree requiring some information deemed malicious be removed from social media within three hours, while what is deemed false news must be pulled down within 24 hours of being notified by authorities. The ministry is also looking to increase the fine for disseminating false information.
“All cross-border platforms when entering Vietnam’s market have to comply with Vietnamese law,” Do said. “If any one doesn’t, it will not be welcomed and will not be allowed to operate in Vietnam.”
In the first six months of last year, Facebook agreed to block more than 1,370 posts with “toxic” content while Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube and TikTok removed 5,363 videos and 182 clips, respectively, local media reported, citing a report from the communications ministry. YouTube also blocked access from Vietnam to about 1,500 clips having anti-state content in March 2022, the report said.
Multiple Facebook fan pages experienced posting restrictions this week, VnExpress International news website reported.
The Southeast Asian nation had roughly 78 million internet users in January out of a population of more than 98.5 million people, according to a report compiled by Kepios Pte. and We Are Social Ltd.
TikTok was ranked the third most used social media platform in Vietnam, with 77.5% of the country’s internet users aged 16 to 64 using it as of the third quarter last year, the report said. Facebook and local social network Zalo, owned by VNG Corp., attracted 91.6% and 90.1% of users, respectively.
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