Vietnam to require 24-hour take-down for “false” social media content

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s information minister said on Friday authorities had tightened regulations to deal with “false” content on social media platforms so that it must be taken down within 24 hours instead of 48 hours previously.

The new rules will enshrine Vietnam’s position as one of the world’s most stringently controlled regimes for social media firms and will strengthen the ruling Communist Party’s hand as it cracks down on “anti-state” activity.

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung told parliament there was risk that “false news, if it is handled in a slow manner, will spread very widely.”

Reuters had previously reported government plans to bring in the new regulations, as well rules so that very sensitive information has to be taken down within three hours.

Most governments do not have laws imposing the taking down of content on social media firms, but Vietnam’s move comes amid intensifying crackdowns in some parts of the world on online content.

According to Hung, current penalties in Vietnam for posting and spreading misinformation were only one-tenth of the level imposed by Southeast Asian peers.

“The ministry will propose to the government an increase in administrative fines to a level that is high enough to deter the public,” he said.

Speaking to the legislature, Hung proposed by 2023 to completely deal with “News-lisation”, a term used by authorities to describe when people are misled into thinking that social media accounts are authorised news outlets.

Reuters in September reported that the government was preparing rules to limit which social media accounts can post news-related content.

Vietnam, which is a $1 billion market for Facebook, has tightened internet rules over the past few years, culminating in a cybersecurity law that came into effect in 2019 and national guidelines on social media behaviour introduced in June last year.

Critics have raised concerns the laws could hand the authorities more power to crack down on dissidents.

(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Ed Davies)

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