Vietnam is preparing new rules to limit which social media accounts can post news-related content, three people familiar with the matter said.
The rules, expected to be announced by the end of this year and with details yet to be hammered out, would establish a legal basis for controlling news dissemination on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube while placing a significant moderation burden on platform providers, two of the sources said.
The sources asked not to be identified, as discussions about the new rules remain confidential.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications and Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“The government wants to fix what it sees as the ‘news-lisation’ of social media,” one source familiar with the talks said. “News-lisation,” or “bao hoa,” is a term used by the authorities to describe the misleading of users into thinking that social media accounts are authorized news outlets.
Government officials have been holding confidential meetings with popular social media and Internet firms to brief them on which types of accounts would be allowed to post news content under the new rules, the sources said.
Authorities would be able to order social media companies to ban accounts that break those rules, they said.
The Vietnamese Communist Party already maintains tight media censorship and tolerates little dissent, with one of the world’s most stringent Internet regimes and national guidelines on social media behavior.
Two sources with direct knowledge said that more rules on Internet and social media platforms would be introduced around the fourth quarter to early next year.
As tech-savvy young Vietnamese increasingly turn to social media for information, those platforms have become a target for government efforts to restrict the flow of news from unauthorized sources.
Vietnam is a top-10 market globally for Facebook with 60 million to 70 million users, according to data from last year, and sources familiar with the matter said that it generates about US$1 billion in annual revenue for the company — surpassing France.
YouTube has 60 million users in Vietnam and TikTok has 20 million, according to government estimates last year, although Twitter remains a relatively small player.
Meta Platforms Inc, owner of Facebook, 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 with adherence to its guidelines, but did not comment on pending Vietnam regulations.
The Vietnamese government in July adopted a set of non-binding guidelines on what qualifies as news firms, including criteria to distinguish “real” and “fake” news outlets, warning that some social networking sites include accounts that mislead users into thinking they are newspapers.
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