Exclusive-Vietnam is rolling out rules to limit news posts on social media accounts

by Fanny Potkin and Phuong Nguyen

SINGAPORE/HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam is preparing new rules governing which social media accounts can post news-related content, three people familiar with the matter said, as authorities tighten their control over news and information sources in the country. hardened.

The rules, expected to be announced by the end of the year and with details yet to be hammered out, will establish a legal basis for controlling news dissemination on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, placing a significant moderation burden on platform providers. . added.

The sources asked not to be identified, as discussions about the new rules remain confidential.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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“The government wants to fix what it sees as ‘news-lization’ of social media,” said a source familiar with the talks. “News-lization”, or bao hoa, is a term used by authorities to mislead users into thinking that social media accounts are authorized news outlets.

According to sources, government officials are holding confidential meetings with popular social media and internet firms to discuss what types of accounts will be allowed to post news content under the new rules.

He said officials would be able to order social media companies to ban accounts that break those rules.

Two sources with direct knowledge told Reuters that more rules on the Internet and social media platforms will be introduced from the fourth quarter of 2022 to the beginning of 2023.

As tech-savvy young Vietnamese increasingly turn to social media for information, those platforms have become the target of government efforts to restrict the flow of news from unauthorized sources.

As of 2021 figures, Vietnam is a top-10 market globally for Facebook with 60 million to 70 million users, and sources familiar with the matter said it generates about $1 billion in annual revenue for the company. – Leaving France behind.

YouTube has 60 million users in Vietnam and TikTok has 20 million according to government estimates for 2021, although Twitter remains a relatively small player.

Facebook owners Meta Platforms Inc. and Twitter Inc. declined to comment. Alphabet Inc.’s Google and YouTube did not respond to requests for comment. TikTok said in a statement that it addresses content violations based on applicable laws and in compliance with its guidelines, but did not comment on Vietnam’s pending rules.

The Vietnamese government adopted a set of non-binding guidelines for qualifying as news outlets in July, including criteria to differentiate “real” and “fake” news outlets, warning that some social networking Sites include accounts that mislead users into thinking they are newspapers

Sources told Reuters in April that the new rules, originally planned for July, reflect the government’s dissatisfaction with the social media platform’s take-down rates.

This will be done through an amendment to the country’s main Internet law.

Vietnam also issued a new regulation in August that, due to take effect from October, would require technology firms to store users’ data locally and set up local offices.

(Reporting by Fanny Potkin in Singapore and Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Edmund Kloman)

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