Vietnam plans etiquette code for social media users

By Hoang Thuy   May 19, 2018 | 04:00 am PT
Vietnam plans etiquette code for social media users
A man uses a mobile device at a coffee shop in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham
The government is concerned about hate speech and toxic content on Facebook.

Vietnam's information and communication authorities are discussing ways to build a code of conduct for social media users in the country to prevent negative contents, protect users and create a healthy online environment.

The etiquette code is necessary as “activities on social media should be cultural, humane and ethical,” Truong Minh Tuan, minister of information and communication, told a meeting in Hanoi on Friday.

Tuan said the ministry will consult the public on the code, and make it concise and easy to understand.

“The purpose here is to create a healthy environment on social media and protect users,” he said.

The code will work as the general guideline for all social media users and each organization can add their own regulations into the code later, Tuan said, citing social media codes of British broadcaster the BBC and militaries of several countries as examples to support his point.

Doan Cong Huynh, head of the ministry’s foreign information service authority, said social media has no boundaries and its impacts on users’ daily life is a problem not just in Vietnam but worldwide.

The code’s purpose is not just to prevent negative contents on social media but should also align with the Party’s vision to try to overcome the limitations of a Vietnamese person’s character, be it online or offline, Huynh said.

“So far, social media users in Vietnam tend to argue to prove them right rather than stay informative,” he said, adding that the code should deter bad language to protect children on social media.

“These days, many Facebookers are willing to use uncultured language only to lure more reactions and comments, and that should be avoided,” Huynh said.

Luu Dinh Phuc, head of the press authority, said Facebook has been using artificial intelligence to detect toxic contents related to violence, pornography and antagonism but this tool has not been very productive as it could only find 38 percent of 2.5 million toxic contents.

The latest report issued in January this year by We are Social, a social media marketing and advertising agency, showed around 55 million Vietnamese, or 57 percent of the population, use social media, and 64 million are online.

A survey by Vietnam’s Program for Internet and Society by Vietnam National University in Hanoi last year showed that 78 percent of more than 1,000 respondents said they had been victims of hate speech.

According to this survey, hate speech on social media in Vietnam was mostly defamation and libel, with 61.7 percent of respondents as victims, followed by slander with 46.6 percent, ethnic discrimination with 37 percent, gender discrimination with 29.3 percent, disability stigma with 21.7 percent and religious discrimination with 16 percent.

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