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Fake news finds fertile ground in Vietnam’s current issues

Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 16:01 GMT+7
Fake news finds fertile ground in Vietnam’s current issues
A Facebook page that has been fined for spreading fake news on the African swine fever epidemic in northern Vietnam

Trending social issues in Vietnam such as the growing African swine fever epidemic and the ongoing clash between traditional fish sauce makers and industrial condiment producers have become fertile ground for fake news, but authorities are swift to take action.

On Monday, the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI) of Vietnam said it had slapped a Facebook page with a fine of VND20 million (US$864) for spreading fake news on the African swine fever epidemic that is hitting northern Vietnam

The page, which operates as an online fashion store selling maternity dresses with nearly 300,000 followers, published a post on March 4 addressing ‘updates’ on the epidemic.

The post warned Hanoi residents against buying pork sold in the Vietnamese capital, claiming that the meat was sourced from pigs infected with the African swine fever.

Another post warning the page’s followers of fake news about the African swine fever epidemic on Facebook was also published on Sunday.

Information provided in those posts is false, said Le Quang Tu Do, ABEI deputy director.

ABEI had a meeting with the page owner on Monday, during which they admitted to spreading fake news and appeared remorseful for their action, Do said.

The owner also agreed to pay the administrative penalty and remove the incorrect post permanently.

The African swine fever, a highly contagious disease which is incurable in pigs but harmless to humans, has spread rapidly across neighboring China since August, and has been found in at least 13 cities and provinces in Vietnam,

Over 11,000 pigs have been infected and destroyed because of the virus, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

A Facebook page that pretends to be the official account of the Central Propaganda and Education Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

A Facebook page that pretends to be the official account of the Central Propaganda and Education Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam

In another case of fake news in Vietnam, officials have warned of a Facebook page pretending to be the official profile of the Central Propaganda and Education Committee of the Party.

On Sunday, the fake page published a post that attacked traditional fish sauce producers with false and fabricated information, said Tran Thanh Lam, deputy director of the committee’s Journalism and Publishing Department.

The post surfaced at a time when conventional Vietnamese fish sauce makers have expressed opposition to the draft national standards for the production of the liquid condiment, in which their products, made from natural ingredients, are equated with industrially produced counterparts that have a chemical content.

The Central Propaganda and Education Committee has no official Facebook profile, and any page that claims to be so is fake, Lam said.

The committee will issue an official dispatch asking the Ministry of Public Security to identify the owner of the page and take appropriate actions, he added.

“We will notify Facebook of the fake account,” an ABEI official told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Monday.

“We believe Facebook will cooperate closely with Vietnamese authorities in handling violating accounts,” the official said.

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