Vietnam tells Facebook, Google to remove fake news about coronavirus

By Viet Tuan   February 4, 2020 | 04:00 am PT
Vietnam tells Facebook, Google to remove fake news about coronavirus
Health officials examine tourists at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Vietnam officials have said they will tell Facebook and Google to take down accounts that spread false information about the novel coronavirus.

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung has instructed state agencies to get in touch with the two technology companies.

In an instruction on preventing and combating the deadly virus (nCoV) Hung said false information would cause public alarm and affect official efforts to control the epidemic.

He also asked Vietnamese technology firms to use artificial intelligence to locate fake news and help the Ministry of Health's portal avoid overload of traffic due to surging demand for nCoV-related information. Firms have also been asked to use big data to suggest solutions to authorities for combating the nCoV.

Telecom and digital companies like Zalo, Lotus, Gapo (Vietnamese social networks), Coccoc (local search engine), Moca (Grab's e-payment platform), Facebook, Google, and Grab need to prioritize information about the outbreak published by authorities so that the public could access it easily, the instruction said.

Police are cracking down on people spreading fake information about the virus.

Several people were slapped with fines for doing so on Zalo and Facebook last week, including six people in northern Vietnam and three others elsewhere, who each had to pay VND12.5 million ($540).

The government declared the nCoV outbreak an epidemic on Saturday. Vietnam has recorded ten confirmed cases of new coronavirus infection as of Tuesday, including five in Vinh Phuc Province, three in Ho Chi Minh City, one in Khanh Hoa Province and one in Thanh Hoa Province.

By Tuesday afternoon, Vietnam have discharged three of the nCoV patients from hospital.

The global death toll from the epidemic has reached 427, with 425 dying in China, one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

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