Community should share responsibility for a successful social network Code of Conduct

July 14, 2021 - 08:46

The Ministry of Information and Communications has issued a Code of Conduct on Social Networks to guide the building of a safe, democratic, and healthy e-environment in order to improve human rights in Việt Nam.


Trần Thành Nam, head of the Faculty of Educational Sciences. Photo

The Ministry of Information and Communications has issued a Code of Conduct on Social Networks to guide the building of a safe, democratic, and healthy e-environment in order to improve human rights in Việt Nam.

The Thế giới & Việt Nam (World & Việt Nam) online newspaper had an interview with Trần Thành Nam, head of the Faculty of Educational Sciences, Hà Nội National University on this issue.

What do you think about the Code of Conduct?

We already have the Law on Cybersecurity which regulates general behaviour on social networks from a legal perspective. The introduction of the Code of Conduct on Social Networks recently is like a bottom-up infrastructure institution that regulates the behaviour of the community, regarding culture and ethics, by utilising group pressure to regulate behaviour.

This Code is like a convention - a self-imposed charter convention for a community living in the same space that are committed to each other. In fact, as of the first quarter of 2021, the social network users community in Việt Nam reached almost 70 million accounts, covering nearly 70 per cent of the population.

Therefore, the birth of the code is very timely. It will help regulate the behaviour of social network participants, help the community be aware of right and wrong behaviours in cyberspace, and at the same time require each individual to be responsible for the behaviour, information, and images they share on social networks in general.

In order for the Code of Conduct to  work and to be able to filter out content that does not meet standards laid out on the code, what are the responsibilities of the parties involved?

I think it is important, for this Code of Conduct to be effective, for social organisations, schools, and families to aware of their responsibility.

If we consider the Code like a convention, we first need to communicate its role and requirements, so that the community understands the core values ​​of online behaviour. For example, respect and compliance with the law in terms of information safety and security.

Then, they must be allowed to comment on the do's and don'ts.

Although the target audience of social networks are usually young people, in order to clean and civilise the online environment, it is necessary to raise awareness among not only the young generation but also adults who were not born in the digital age, those whose skills are still at the level of "digital refugees".

We need to work on how to turn the Code of Conduct into specific behavioural indicators that are easy to understand for children and practically applicable in real life. Until everyone in the social network community understands and sees the presence of their opinions in the code, and sees themselves as being partly responsible for the Code, only then can it be a success.

Ministries and sectors need to carry out studies to assess the level of awareness, attitudes, and behaviours as well as the digital skills of the community after the Code of Conduct was issued.

At the same time, concerned units also need to find out what factors promote or hinder the implementation of this Code. This information should be used to make adjustments to improve policies, remove inappropriate terms, and add supplementary regulations. Then we need to add new terms to keep up with life on social media.

What role should the press, media and network platform providers perform to improve the digital capacity of the people?

The media and network platform providers play a very important role. They lay the first bricks in raising awareness and educating the community on how to behave in the online environment through their products and services. They can do this via interactive media products from infographics, skill-guidance video clips, or scientific articles, analysis, and trend monitoring.

The press and media in the past have contributed to raising public awareness about digital citizenship.

Basic competencies that need to be formed to participate in the digital world include maintaining a balance between real life and virtual world; maintaining a suitable online self-image; preventing, detecting and handling security problems; communicating and interacting safely online, identifying and handling incidents and online bullying; assessing network news and personal communication capacity.

The Code of Conduct will create a new face for the social networking community in Việt Nam, but do you think we will need more specific guidelines for online statements?

As I said, the Code of Conduct is issued like a framework code of conduct as a foundation for organisations to concretise it into behavioural indicators suitable for their specific activities.

For example, businesses will have to have additional rules for speech that respects brands and those who advertise products and services must comply with the regulations of advertising according to their own capacity and products' functions.

How do you expect the Code of Conduct to create a healthier online environment, especially for children - the most vulnerable in cyberspace?

Recently, not only has the Code of Conduct on the Internet been issued, but the Government has also approved the program "Protecting and supporting children to interact healthily and creatively in the online environment from 2021-2025".

This combination is expected to better protect the secrets of private life. At the same time, this new regulation will also help prevent and handle acts involving taking advantage of the online environment to groom children.

The Code pays special attention to equipping children with age-appropriate digital competencies so that children can self-identify and protect themselves in the online environment. This is to maintain a healthy online environment that facilitates learning, entertainment and creative connections.

In order to well implement the Code of Conduct and build a healthy social network, we must also teach children how to improve the way they use the tools available to them effectively.

For example, to implement the rule of self-management and security of social network accounts, it is necessary to teach children how to report bad and harmful information and how to create strong passwords. We must also help them to understand what to share and what to keep private.

In order to implement the official rules on information sharing, it is necessary to teach children how to appraise and evaluate information obtained, and guide their use of technology so that they can detect fake news. VNS