Fake News on Covid-19 Spread, Vietnam Intensifies Handling

Some social media accounts have recently used images of Covid-19 deaths in Myanmar to spread fake news that the bodies are patients in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.
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Fake News on Covid-19 Spread, Vietnam Intensifies Handling
The fake news has confused the public and has had an adverse impact on pandemic prevention and control activities. Photo: VNA

The Vietnam Anti-Fake News Centre (VAFC) under the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information confirmed that the photos of people who died of Covid-19 posted on social media in Vietnam are images of Myanmar and are not Vietnamese people.

The fake news has confused the public and has had an adverse impact on pandemic prevention and control activities.

VAFC encourages people and netizens not to share and spread the fake news. The news centre will transfer the case to relevant authorities for investigation and handling in strict accordance with the law, Viet Nam News reported.

A 39-year-old man (R) in Hanoi is fined for falsely claiming online that the capital was going under lockdown, May 10, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Hanoi Department of Information and Communications.
A 39-year-old man (R) in Hanoi is fined for falsely claiming online that the capital was going under lockdown, May 10, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Hanoi Department of Information and Communications. Photo: VnExpress

Last May, a 39-year-old man, who resides in Hoang Mai District, posted on his Facebook account that "Hanoi was clear of people on its first day under lockdown."

Such information is false and socially disruptive, said the municipal Department of Information and Communications.

The man has admitted to his mistake and removed the information. He was fined VND12.5 million ($542.30), according to VnExpress.

Intensifying handling of fake news on Covid-19

Photographs posted on social media in Viet Nam showing people who died of COVID-19 are fake news. The photos are of Myanmar, not Vietnamese, who have died of COVID-19. — Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre
Photographs posted on social media in Vietnam showing people who died of Covid-19 are fake news. Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) on July 23 issued a document on intensifying the handling of fake news and untrue information about Covid-19 on the internet.

Under the Government’s resolution on Covid-19 prevention and control issued on July 20, the ministry has been tasked with instructing the communication work, providing information in a timely manner to help people understand the situation, stay calm, sympathise with and support anti-pandemic measures, and actively implementing pandemic prevention and control measures, thus contributing to consolidating and enhancing public trust in the Party and the State.

The MIC has noticed a rise in fake news and misinformation about the pandemic situation as well as the pandemic combat, which have undermined the great national unity bloc.

Misleading claims about the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines and untrue information distorting the Vietnamese Government’s vaccine distribution policy and the use of the Covid-19 vaccine fund have also been spread on the social media.

The spread of such harmful and ill-intentioned information has eroded public trust in the pandemic fight, causing public anxiety and concern, and hindering the country’s anti-pandemic efforts.

Therefore, the MIC requests ministries, ministry-level agencies, Government agencies, and People’s Committees of cities and provinces to seriously observe regulations on providing information for the press, ensuring that information must be provided as soon as possible in any circumstances.

In cases of unexpected incidents in ministries, agencies and localities, the press should be provided update information no later than two hours from the time the incident occurs, the ministry said.

Fake News on Covid-19 Spread, Vietnam Intensifies Handling
The MIC has noticed a rise in fake news and misinformation about the pandemic situation as well as the pandemic combat. Photo: VNA

When detecting fake news and misinformation, ministries, agencies and localities need to instruct police and other relevant forces to quickly check the information, track its source and handle people involved in the dissemination.

Municipal and provincial Departments of Information and Communications are required to strictly handle press agencies, information websites and social networks that publish and spread fake news and misinformation about the pandemic’s developments and anti-pandemic work in localities.

Forces involved in Covid-19 prevention and control must seriously follow regulations set by competent agencies and have appropriate behaviours towards the public, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported./.

Vietnam is experiencing the most challenging wave of pandemic outbreaks, with infections tally rising to 83,191 on July 24 morning. Up to 5,275 new cases were added in 19 localities.

The new patients were recorded in HCM City (2,070) and the southern provinces of Long An (604), Binh Duong (523), Tien Giang (220), Tay Ninh (132), Dong Nai (122), Ben Tre (52), Dong Thap (29), Vinh Long (25), Kien Giang (14), Ba Ria - Vung Tau (8) and Hau Giang (6); Da Nang (36) and the central provinces of Khanh Hoa (104), Phu Yen (12), and Dak Lak (3); Hanoi (5) and the northern provinces of Vinh Phuc (18) and Hung Yen (4).

Almost three months into the new wave, local infections have been recorded in 62 of Vietnam's 63 cities and provinces, led by HCMC with 52,544.

Of all the patients so far in the wave, 15,536 have recovered and 335 have died.

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