Man faces criminal charges for posting fake news on Covid-19 death

By Khanh Huong, Phuoc Tuan   April 11, 2020 | 01:00 am PT
Man faces criminal charges for posting fake news on Covid-19 death
Dam Vinh Son is questioned at a police station in Lam Dong Province for spreading fake news on a local Covid-19 death, April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Huong.
A Da Lat resident is being investigated for the crime of posting false information on his Facebook page about a Covid-19 death.

Dinh Vinh Son, 27, a native of popular resort town Da Lat in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, is the first person in the country to face a criminal investigation for spreading rumors about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Son, who has not been detained, is being investigated for "illegally posting or using information on computer networks and telecommunication networks," an offense that carries a maximum prison term of seven years.

Investigators said that on April 1, Son used his Facebook account called ‘Ho Hoang Duy’ to post on a public group with 60,000 followers that Da Lat has reported three Covid-19 infections, with one of them dying at 4 a.m. and the other two being placed under quarantine.

He added that the deceased patient lives on Da Phu Street and the other two were vendors in the Da Lat Market. The number of people in contact with these patients rose to 500, he said.

"Please pay attention to not going out without necessity. The information is completely accurate. I’m not joking on April Fool's Day and I’m not posting such scrap news just to be fined," he said in his Facebook post.

The post received a lot of shares, worrying people. A few hours later, Son removed the information and locked his account.

Lam Dong has recorded no Covid-19 infections so far. No Covid-19 death has been reported in Vietnam until now.

Son admitted to the police that he had a conflict with Ho Hoang Duy in Da Lat and had created a fake Facebook in that person’s name to post false information as an act of revenge.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in Vietnam in late January, authorities have slapped fines of up to 15 million ($427- 641) on hundreds of individuals for posting fake news on the pandemic, under a decree on administrative violations on post and telecommunications, information technology and radio frequency regulations.

In a latest case, a Vietnamese lawyer, Le Van Thiep, was fined VND8 million ($338) on Friday for insulting an infected female reporter in a Facebook post.

To tighten control over the propagation of fake news, Hanoi police said they would launch criminal investigations that could lead to jail terms of up to seven years for those posting false Covid-19 information.

Vietnam has so far recorded 257 infection cases, and has discharged 144 patients.

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed over 102,700 lives as it spread to 210 countries and territories.

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