Việt Nam to inspect TikTok next month amid increase in harmful content

April 08, 2023 - 09:31
Harmful content has featured on TikTok since last year, negatively affecting Vietnamese children, Lê Quang Tự Do, head of the ministry’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information said.
Harmful content has been on the rise on TikTok since last year, according to the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information said. VNS Photo Seán Nolan

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will conduct a thorough inspection of the operations of TikTok, a popular video-sharing app, in the country, in May and will have drastic measures to have it remove harmful content which has been on the rise since 2022.

At a press conference held in Hà Nội on Thursday, the Ministry of Information and Communications raised public violations of TikTok, which entered the country in 2019.

Harmful content has been on the rise on TikTok since last year, negatively affecting Vietnamese children, Lê Quang Tự Do, head of the ministry’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information said.

"Content on TikTok is addictive and constantly creates malicious trends, leaving negative impacts on users, especially young people," he said.

At the press conference, Do pointed out six violations of TikTok in Việt Nam.

Firstly, Tiktok does not have effective measures to control violating content related to politics, content opposing the Party and State, fake news, harmful and even dangerous content for children, he said.

TikTok’s second violation is its use of automatic content distribution algorithms to create trends to spread sensational, clickbait content, regardless of whether it is malicious or objectionable content that adversely affects the community and the young people, the official said.

The app’s third violation is that it has no effective control measures to prevent scammed business activities and trading, advertising fake goods and goods with unidentified origins.

The fourth violation, Do said, is that TikTok doesn’t manage the activities of Tiktok idols. Many Tiktok idols tend to produce uncultured content to target viewers' curiosity, and even create trends to profit from this content.

The fifth violation that the official mentioned is there is no effective control measure for pirated content, especially content extracted from movies.

The sixth is that TikTok also does not have management measures for users to arbitrarily use private and personal images of others to spread fake news, smear, or insult others.

Violations on TikTok have formed a breeding ground for fake news, causing economic damage and social instability, the official said.

The platform has encouraged young people to imitate and follow negative and objectionable trends, distorting their perception and lifestyle, and undermined the nation's cultural values, he said.

The loose management of this platform also encourages and facilitates illegal business activities and makes copyright infringement rampant as well, he said.

Violations  occur not only on TikTok but also on other social networking platforms with with similar features on Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts. Short-form videos like TikTok are popular and easier to trend than long-form videos, text and images, he said.

Do said the Ministry will organise an interdisciplinary inspection team with the participation of relevant ministries and branches such as Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Public Security, General Department of Taxation to conduct comprehensive inspection of TikTok's activities in Việt Nam.

Do said: "We will also coordinate with relevant ministries and sectors to comprehensively assess the impact and influence of TikTok on the community, as well as the law observance of this social network.

"The Ministry will then have consultations with leaders of higher levels to have a more radical and thorough handling direction, not just fighting to ask for the removal of malicious and illegal content."

At the same time, the Ministry will improve the efficiency of the scanning tool including images and videos on YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook. It will also organise conferences with third-party service providers (multi-channel network) of YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook to enhance management efficiency in compliance with Vietnamese laws and regulations between cross-border social networks and multi channel networks and key opinion leaders (KOLs).

The Ministry will also coordinate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to manage TikTok Shop’s provision of e-commerce services as well as other cross-border platforms in Việt Nam.

He added: "The Ministry of Information and Communications requires businesses providing cross-border services to be responsible for preventing and removing infringing content and information at the request of competent authorities. In case these businesses fail to do so, the competent authorities will deploy technical measures to prevent all content, services, and applications on the network that violate the law."

Meanwhile, a growing number of countries have banned TikTok from devices issued to government employees due to rising privacy and cybersecurity concerns, according to Associated Press.

Countries that have implemented partial or total bans on TikTok include: Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Union, France, India, United Kingdom and the United States. — VNS